My Day as an Anti-Feminist (Role) Model

A couple of weeks ago I wrote this post soliciting advice and conversation about the request that I “dress like a feminist” for a photo spread to be featured in a mainstream women’s magazine as a representative of the next generation of feminism, or as they keep putting it, “the next Gloria Steinem.”

The shoot was last week and I took my readers’ fantastic advice – thanks for that, by the way! – and packed in my hanging bag several outfits in which I feel comfortable, happy, and most of all, me.

Yet the clothes I’d worked so hard to pick out were destined never to make it out of the bag.  Instead, the fantastic stylist had gone through the mag’s generously stocked designer closet and picked out clothes for us that will be at the peak of style when the issue comes out in the fall. This, at first, was fine by me – this thrift store girl will transform into a fashion diva on your dime any day!

Let me stop here and explain something that’s not shocking at all considering I was socialized female in American society: I’ve struggled with my weight and body image issues for as long as I can remember. I went to Weight Watchers for the first time when I was 11 and tried out every fad diet I could find in my mother’s magazines. I spent many years sobbing in dressing rooms, at swimming pools and school dances and talent shows, because I could never fit into the blonde, rail-thin ideal of a pretty Texas girl.

After I got to New York and into feminist activism, I gained a perspective on beauty that eased my body hatred a bit. I realized that what’s ugly in one culture is desirable in another and vice versa and that this constant pressure – applied to women by the media, our friends, our family, random strangers on the street and online – to be unnaturally thin is another form of sexism that at best hobbles women by making us spend unnatural amounts of time concerned with our appearance and at worst, kills.

So, when I walked into that photo shoot last Wednesday, I thought I’d made a fragile peace with my size 12 body. I’d decided that I liked the young women I speak to on campuses seeing a real-looking woman speaking her truth and making waves in the world. I know in my feminist heart of hearts that my words and actions matter far more than the packaging they come in– and, by Goddess, a little extra packaging can be just as hot!

That peace started to crumble fast when all the other women profiled – an amazing cast, including a playwright, a politician, an FBI agent and a fashion designer, among others, who for some reason all happened to be thin and drop dead conventionally gorgeous  – were given 7 or 8 fantastic outfits to try on. Since designers don’t usually provide size 12 samples, I got a wrap dress that made me look like a sail, a silk dress that made me look like a sail boat, and an embroidered leather jacket that, had it fit, would have been a huge break in solidarity with my allies in the animals rights movement. I pushed back tears, told that evil voice in my head saying, “disgusting cow” over and over again to shut up, and willed myself to smile and walk out of the dressing room in the “sail boat” option.

A pair of fierce, black, six inch platform boots and really awesome snake bracelets made me feel slightly better, but not for long. When we lined up for a once-over from the staff, I was transported back to Lubbock, TX and into a picture of me and a group of friends dressed in the same white dress, except mine was three sizes larger. I was then, and I realized standing in the line-up, always will be, the “smart one” or the “talented one” but never, ever the “pretty one.”

I know how it works at group photo shoots: the director pulls different people in and out of the shot to see whose outfits and look work together. Yet as I got pulled in and out of every single shot, I couldn’t help but be sure it was because of how horrible I looked. I cried in the bathroom three different times – the make-up artist loved that – and in a moment of being truly flustered, fell to the asphalt in my impossibly high heels and ripped up my legs, as you can see in the photo below.

My bruised, scraped up legs and the perpetrators, fantastically fierce black spiked heel boots.

I was eventually photographed in the last shot of the day and that part was surprisingly fine – years of posing for headshots, newspapers, and Facebook photos kicked in and I needed the least direction of anyone in my group. As I took off the dress and heels and prepared to leave in my own long, flowing skirt, I couldn’t decide if I was more pissed that I’d been made into some editor’s idea of “High Fashion Feminist Barbie” or that I’d failed so miserably in executing the role at every possible turn. The next Gloria Steinem, huh? Yeah – without the beauty or the grace!

So I signed on to spend my life fighting against the beauty myth in all its insidious forms and what did I do? Fall hopelessly prey to it, and on my face too.

Even though that evil voice in my head – which is, not coincidentally, male and hisses like Hanibal Lecter – is telling me this makes me a bad feminist, it simply means that I, like most women and some men, can still succumb to society’s false paradigm that beauty and worth are correlated. It reminded me how invaluable feminism’s campaign for real beauty standards is because I never want another woman to feel the way I did during that shoot.

It was also a reminder that, even if people are calling me a role model, or perhaps especially so, I’m still very much in the process of birthing myself into the woman I want to be and stripping away the layers of myself that have been torn and scarred by sexism and oppression and personal pain. It’s an excruciating process at times, but a necessary one.

In this case, I’m vowing to do some reading on feminism and body image – suggestions in the comments appreciated! – and feed and exercise my body in a manner so that it’s healthier, if not smaller. I’m going to consciously banish that creepy, self-hating voice from my head and ask myself each time I want to succumb to it’s lull if I would say to a fellow woman such awful things.

After all, it wouldn’t do the movement any good if I or anyone else waits to do radical social justice work until we’re “feminist enough,” unblemished, for public consumption. I don’t believe my sisters will be put off by my scars and scrapes but instead will see them and be more able to see, accept, and heal their own.

Or, at the very least, they’ll see my legs and skip the six-inch heels.

119 Comments

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119 responses to “My Day as an Anti-Feminist (Role) Model

  1. A good book is “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf.
    I’ve also struggled with the same problems. When I realized I was a feminist and got a degree in Women’s Studies, I felt like I was betraying feminism by liking makeup and dresses. What I’ve come to realize lately is that feminism (at least MY version of it) means embracing whatever CHOICE you want to make about how to dress, etc.
    With the weight issue, I too started feeling better about myself when I recently went to New York City. I think it’s because of the variety of people around you all the time. But when I went back to Virginia to a local bar, my inner judgmental voice started kicking in. I think the key is to surround yourself with positive people and images, though that’s hard to do in this world. It takes effort.

    • dr beck

      To be honest, if you actually look at feminisms history, during your women’s studies, you will find that men were pretty much behin dt e whole thing! For instance it was edward bernays who helped women “get equality” by advising them on the use of CIGARETTES, which th ewomen happily took up in their ridiculous fervor for “same-ness” but after reading this blog I feel like I’ve ran across women who need friends more than they need feminism! The women here are NOOOOO different than any other woman I’ve come across, feminism is a delusion sold to women by US, MEN look into steinem’s cia backers….MEN! WE MADE YOUR MOVEMENT LADIES…. multi-tasking anyone? lol

      • K.Joy

        String together a cohesive and factual sentence, and maybe your opinion will be valued. If feminism is sold to women by men, why do so many men (yourself included, I can tell) feel threatened by it? Your simplistic analysis is shameful and embarrassing.

  2. I second Amy’s recommendation of The Beauty Myth, though I suspect you’ve already read it. I highly recommend the blogs and books of the Fat Acceptance/Health at Every Size movement. Kate Harding’s blog, Shapely Prose (and its archives – http://kateharding.net) is a good place to start. See also her essay, “Does my butt look fat?” at http://www.salon.com/life/excerpt/2009/01/24/kate_harding. I’m also a big fan of Marianne Kirby, who blogs at The Rotund (http://www.therotund.com/), and is Kate’s co-author on the book, Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body (http://www.powells.com/biblio/62-9780399534973-0).

    P.S. Thanks for writing this piece – I really appreciate the honesty.

  3. This is such a beautiful and powerful post.

    I know that in the fashion world size 12 is considered ‘plus size,’ but I also know that the fashion community is an unhappy insecure bunch who can only dream of being as happy and hot and comfortable in their bodies as you are.

    When I was a larger teen, I’d read my Seventeen magazine in the hopes of finding someone who looked like me. It was rare, but every time I saw a bigger girl in the pages (modeling clothes, no less!) it lit up my world.

    As a larger adult, I’ve made my peace with it all, finally. But I don’t know how I’d react in your situation when my stylists realized they’d have to find a bunch of size 18 clothes for me (do they even make clothes that big? they’d wonder). I’m laughing now, but I think it would be a rough day. Still…

    The more real women we see in consumer magazines, the better fore everyone. Just stay off those 6-inch heels. Those aren’t healthy for feminists or any other living things.

    • I was so totally with you on looking at Seventeen and feeling happy every time a “plus size model” appeared, even if size 12 isn’t really a plus-size, so she’s at least three sizes smaller than the girls she’s modeling clothes for…

      It’s so easy to be OK with yourself until you’re trying on four or five or six outfits and they’re either not going on in the first place, or they make you feel bigger… 90% of the time I’m OK with myself, I like my body (despite being size 13), but as soon as I try on clothes, or a bathing suit, I stop liking myself.

      So, that day would be bad for me, too.

  4. Loving you is easy because you’re beautiful in and out. I am so outraged they made you feel less than the queen you are. Keep that head held high! xo

  5. Becca

    wonderful article!

  6. emmylu28

    This is wonderful, thank you so much for sharing.

  7. The point about beauty is that it has always been something difficult. Something the majority of people definitely will not have.

    That’s true for men and women. For super-sized Mauritanian mamas and size 4 catwalk models.

    Is it, honestly, so wrong as a feminist to want to fit that unattainable ideal sometimes? When I was reading Helene Cixous, I’d have said so without a damn.

    But… You can love yourself and embrace your body honestly and passionately. And still, sometimes, want to be the pretty one.

    It’s OK! Great post.

    • That’s the thing which makes me saddest about some feminist beliefs– it’s OK to both believe in women’s equality and feminism *and* want to be pretty. Feeling pretty is magical, and it can come from any number of things– a really swishy skirt, a hairstyle you’ve never tried, being pampered by a manicurist, or anything else.

      Why is beauty so damned difficult?

  8. Bravo to you for this heartfelt post. Our society has become so schizophrenic. We speak about the need to accept and love ourselves, all the while presenting women with airbrushed versions of reality to emulate. Those photogs missed an amazing opportunity.

  9. bla bla bla! This si the first I’m hearing of you and I have to tell you- I dont know all your politics- but I like what youre doing on the surface of things I can see right now… Honey- You have a message, and that message has an image that is YOU. Do not let this happen to you again- you NEED to get yourself a stylist who can assert YOUR image for you in situations like this. DO NOT give up control of what you are photographed in on a photo shoot ever again. Your own stylist could have fielded some designer garb for you to show up with that YOU are happy with AND that represents YOUR body type. Do you knwo how many designers who specialize in “real women” sizes would have jumped to provide clothes for you? I’m betting alot of them.

    Good luck with all you’re doing and take my advice- find a stylist and make whatever production company thats making money off of you- pay for their services. Or findone that will work for you pro-bono. I’m sure working for you and your cause would look great on a resume.

    D.

  10. Owwwy. That looks painful. But at least you had on killer shoes to make it all better.

  11. Tanya

    Shelby I had to laugh at the witty humor in the article! But truly having spent time with you- you are absolutely gorgeous- much prettier than many models I see in magazines.

    I always think some curves are much sexier, feminine & beautiful than a rail thin starving frame. You look healthy, vibrant, and beautiful & I am not one to just say such things!
    :)

  12. Meg

    Hi, Love! I read this once as someone that knows you, and shared the ambition of being a “rail-thin ideal” in the unforgiving environment that is UT-Austin ; )

    And then again as an admirer of the strong feminist icon that you’ve become – and both times, it was extremely powerful and uplifting.

    You’re amazing, and I’m so glad to call you a friend!

  13. Your honesty is so helpful to us all. Before around 1880 or so, when the new clothing industry started promoting body shapes that would fit the mass produced clothes they were selling in the newspapers and magazines, women’s bodies were just there, as servants to living.

    Perhaps one reason we have a hard time getting rid of the perfect beauty image in our minds is that we don’t quite know what goal to put in its place. How about this — I want a body that allows me to be healthy and feel comfortable doing what I want to do. Feeling good about one’s body would follow naturally from achieving the kind of body you have decided you want. I see it as really a practical question because we have to move through our bodies every day. What body do I want to be moving in?

  14. Ellen Rhudy

    Amazing post – I’m really going to enjoy following your blog. And it’s good for me to be reminded that we are all works in progress; that whether I am where I want to be in terms of a positive body image, I am at least in a better place than I was years ago, and have a better understanding of the pressures that lead me to be a feminist striving, sometimes, to meet conventional American beauty standards.

    As a side note of sorts, I’ve been living in Macedonia for 9 months now, and it’s refreshing how different the food culture is here. There’s not the same guilt attached to eating that I see in the states – it is viewed more as a pleasure, and as a chance for a family to come together, as an expression of love.

  15. WorstProfEver

    “Style is originality; fashion is fascism” –Lester Bangs

    I too had to struggle with being a “bad feminist” because I had curves and liked to dress in a flattering manner — and it was made clear to me that this wasn’t OK in my former profession (professor). Beauty does not equal value by any means, but it also pisses me off that being in any way attractive negates authority where women are concerned.

    In my mind, real feminism means that we don’t have to apologize for looking, dressing, or acting in a way that really expresses who we really are — and this isn’t something Vogue magazine gets to decide for us.

    My greatest role model for this, by the way, is Eddie Izzard.

  16. liv

    There are so many amazing people out there doing work on fat oppression that I would encourage you to check out! Marilyn Wann wrote what was for me a life changing book called Fat?So! Linda Bacon’s book Health at Every Size the surprising truth about your weight is another great read. There is Screw Inner Beauty/Lessons from the Fatosphere by Marianne Kirby and Kate Harding. Lastly, on my short list, is the brand new Fat Studies Reader – Esther Rothblum and Sondra Solovay (eds), that will give you some awesome diverse perspectives and look at the intersections of fat oppression and many other forms of oppression people face in the world.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I really enjoy hearing what you have to share.

  17. Shelby, Thanks for this post. I’m sharing this one today for sure. It’s so important for feminists to be honest about our struggles with body image. I’ve interviewed many, many women who keep their insecurities to themselves because they feel like they should know better or that having a bad body image moment, day, year, etc. somehow makes them “bad” feminists. And then of course there’s that conflict that sets in when some women deem body image to be less important or a “silly” preoccupation that doesn’t deserve to be considered a feminist issue. Ugh. So you ARE a role model because you have the guts to put this stuff out there where it needs to be and to dissect it thoughtfully and honestly.

    As far as body image reading, here are a few of my faves in no particular order (I’ve got a whole library of them if you ever want to borrow anything!):

    Can’t Buy My Love by Jean Kilbourne

    The Body Project by Joan Jacobs Brumberg

    A Hunger So Wide and So Deep by Becky W. Thompson (this one explores eating problems among women of color, a subject that is too often overlooked)

    The Obsession by Kim Chernin

    Unbearable Weight by Susan Bordo

    Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney Martin

    Also, Seal Press put out an anthology called About Face last year, which includes a lot of feminist perspectives on body image and beauty.

    The Beauty Myth is a classic and I’ll second the recommendations to check out Kate Harding’s book and blog.

  18. I had just finished reading the NY TIMes article about Full Figured Fashion week in NY and how designers are realizing that they need to make clothing for all women not just skinny women. Then Lyn Brown pointed out your article on FB. Sounds like you need to talk with some of the amazing Plus size models like Sage Salzer on the Hardy Girls Healthy Women national Board and check out Plus Size Models unite blog.

  19. This is an AWESOME article. And, since it was on the wordpress homepage, I discovered you today. I love what you stand for, and definitely want to get my hands on the film (its about time Christians talk about sex).
    Your shoot that day, Im sure, will only encourage your readers more in that it makes you real. Its good to know that people who do BIG THINGS are just like us.
    Honestly, thanks.

  20. therougenetwork

    why be an anti-feminist model when you can just view models all the time?

    http://www.therougenetwork.com

  21. S.

    I know where you come from in this article and it felt like I was transported back to high school (and college) sitting with my mother in a dressing room crying about my breasts and why they were HUGE. While I have a smaller figure, I have a large chest just sticks out (literally). Since high school, both men and women (even friends) have made jokes about them. Some were in a gentle teasing way, but nevertheless, the “sting” was still present.

    Thank you for articulating the feelings that many of us have!

  22. I thought, by definition, that “feminism” was just a general principle that states the importance of a woman’s social, political rights, and thier equality. However, this post makes me realize that there is far more to “the feminist movement” than that.

    As “plus size” women, I think that our body shape is feminine trait that must be proudly defended. WE should wear clothes. The clothes shouldn’t wear US. Loving our bodies is absolutely integral to feminism, because our curves MAKE us feminine.

    Here is the interesting part- I consider blogging as a representation of who I am. Blogging, in a way, is a “body”. Unfortunately, we cannot look in the mirror and press the delete button, or add what we don’t have. I don’t know if any woman could ever be 100% at ease with her body, but why can’t we edit and improve upon the qualities that make us beautiful to begin with?

    I don’t think you should consider those scars as a sign of “oppression”. I think they are a badass representation of strength, and womanhood…so are the boots.

    http://inaneannie.wordpress.com/

  23. This is a wonderfully honest post, Shelby. I really liked it and I wanted to let you know that I’m also dealing with the same predicament. Loving ourselves, I feel, is sometimes easier than loving our bodies. Know that no matter what you do, you’re fantastic- and that six inch heels should never be a prerequisite to being a good role model.

  24. kim

    hi i’m a new blogger surfing, love your article

  25. I have lived in Austin , TX for over a decade now but grew up in Lubbock. I can relate to this as my own personal style put me deeply at odds with their highly conservative status-quo in Lubbock and that style of dress garnished harassment on a social, academic and most frequently religious levels! I am glad I relocated to a place where I didn’t feel it was a crime to be unique.

  26. prosperospen

    Keep up the good fight. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  27. Great blog, you go girl!!

  28. hey, i haven’t had a chance to read all the comments, but there are some AWESOME size-acceptance blogs out there. these are my first suggestions, and they all link to others in blogrolls.

    http://kateharding.net/
    http://www.bodylovewellness.com/
    http://fatshionista.com

    also, check out the Health At Every Size movement and the book of the same name.

    i think i’m pretty similar to you in the whole “fight against it but still fall prey to it every f’ing day” thing. we’ll get stronger. i promise.

  29. sorry, also, if you haven’t already seen it, http://www.shakesville.com is an awesome all-around progressive blog. personally, i think it’s the only place on the internet that truly strives to be a safe space for EVERYONE and succeeds admirably without sacrificing ANY quality or content.

  30. Great post! You described the real world behind the fantasy images portrayed on TV and in the media.

  31. Lydia

    Great post! Love your honesty and humour. A day with fashion stylists sounds like pure torture to me – good for you for surviving with dignity and humour.

    As for body-image reading, have you read Brene Brown’s I Thought it Was Just Me? She has a lot of good things to say about building defences against shame, especially body-image shame. How to fight back against those hissing voices in our heads. Her blog is http://ordinarycourage.squarespace.com/.

  32. T.

    When I was younger I used to be bigger, I hated buying make up, and I thought dresses and heels were impracticalities that ought to be burned along with the sinister men that designed them. Somewhere along the way I decided that I wanted to be liked more so I bought a few tubes of mascara and a bunch of vintage dresses. Now I’m accepted but the only time people listen to what’s coming out of my mouth is when I’m writing on the internet where they can’t see me. I guess we all have our anti-feminist moments of weakness. Just remember, we can buy lots of things to try and make other people like us. But it’s just a distraction from learning how to love ourselves.

  33. I really loved your post. I appreciated that you gave us a very clear point of view without getting too sappy, although I did get a little teary-eyed. Ha. Also, I’m not a person who feels that everyone should love their body the way they are. There’s nothing wrong with improving yourself in all ways, including physically. Of course, you know the old ‘eat right and exercise’ advice. But eating in a way that provides your body with fuel is a good way to be. If you know that 90% of what you put into your body is truly going to benefit you, you will feel better about yourself overall and your body will likely be closer to what you’d like it to be.

    There’s no need to be self-loathing in regards to your body, you will help yourself more by loving yourself and therefore helping yourself become healthier. Change that Hannibal Lecter voice into a friendlier one, more helpful one. Let’s say…Martha Stewart?

  34. I’m sure this has been covered already, but the logical thing about the “Feminist but still want to be pretty” is to figure out who you’re trying to be pretty FOR and where you get your idea of what’s pretty. If you get happy looking at swirly summer dresses, then wear ‘em. I don’t buy that being a strong, independent woman is only possible in a business-suit or grim grey outfits. And if the voice in your head is saying “I want to look like that” not “I OUGHT to look like that” then it’s ok.
    Of course, being male, I may not qualify for an opinion.

  35. Anoush

    “Women, Food, and God” by Geneen Roth. It’s not about – you know – “GOD.” It’s more about being face to face with what’s really going on in there and finding peace within. Hope you like it!

  36. Thanks for the honest post.

    I’m a bit concerned, though – not just in your item, but in media generally – by the label ‘real women’ being *only* apparently relating to overweight women. I’m an average weight – not thin, not fat – and the label ‘real women’ appears to exclude me. Why? Aren’t I real? What makes someone real, anyway? If you mean that overweight women are the majority these days in the West, then the label should be something like ‘majority-sized women’, or something like that, shouldn’t it?

    Can you explain the definition, and how it applies to women of all shapes, sizes, colours, etc?
    I know you didn’t coin the phrase, but you seem happy to use it.

    • liv

      I agree with your sentiments about the term “real” women being used to describe women outside of the societal norm, and I am equally disturbed by the use of the term “overweight”. What exactly am I over? This is just another socially constructed way of negatively categorizing (most often) women’s bodies. Language is powerful. We need to remember that as sometimes our use of can unintentionally negate a whole group of people.

      • “Language is powerful. We need to remember that as sometimes our use of [language] can unintentionally negate a whole group of people.”

        Yes, and that’s just what I’m querying. How can some people be ‘real’, and others not?

        The term ‘overweight’ is more specific, though – there is a median weight, presumably, of all women, and someone over that median could be categorized as ‘overweight’. It doesn’t have to be a negative term, although I agree that it often is used like that.

        But ‘real’? Are some women not-quite-real, some very-real, etc?

  37. Hello everyone,

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  38. Being comfortable in our skin is something I hope we can all learn to embrace. We are always going to show up in different colours, sizes, and shapes from each other! So, how can we love ourselves and each other? There’s a movement/fitness/lifestyle practice called Nia that I love which is very much about loving your body and working out through playful, fun, and energizing movement. So many people have found it to be self-nourishing and affirming. There may be a class near you…www.nianow.com in case you’re interested in checking it out.

  39. Dear Shelby:

    I was touched by the honestly in your post and can understand how you feel. Keep your head-up and try not to fall prey to the Beauty Myth of what others expect women to be.

  40. neverthewoman

    Thank you for this post. I, too, hate that socialized need to fit in in various ways and find it frustrating that the need pops up in the most shallow of situations. While I would not classify myself as feminist, neither am I typical or traditional woman. I am so glad to hear that I am not alone.

  41. romara1027

    The song “New Perspective” by Panic at the Disco isn’t about this subject, but whenever I feel like this or at all related, I listen to it and I suddenly feel inspired to do whatever I want and not listen to anyone else. :D

  42. I’m new to the blogging world, but I’m 2 semesters into minoring in Women’s Studies so I’m huge into feminism.
    It amazes me every time I hear that a woman has been made to feel less than she is simply because society has this idea of what we’re supposed to look like. I’m 20, a size 2-4, and don’t you know that I’ve been made to feel the same way as you? No matter what size any of us are, we’re never going to fit that “perfect” mold. But the thing about this model mold that every woman wishes to fit into, is that it’s not perfect. How many models do you know that are happy? That can eat what they want, act how they want, and not worry about consequences? I guarantee you won’t find many, at least not many that are happy with their self-image. It taken me a long time (which is pathetic since I’m only 20) to realize that when it comes to my body, it’s about me and how I feel. You have realized that and it’s a big accomplishment; be proud :)

    • That’s a good one! You are very wise for your age. I struggled with self-image and weight for a long, long, extra-long time, and at one point said forget it (ok, I used the other f-word). So I started eating everything I felt like eating anytime I wanted. But the chains were broken and I was not obsessing about food or my body anymore, so it was amazing to see how little I felt like eating when I did. As a result, I am size 0-2 now. Difficult to explain, huh.

      Try exercise for boosting your confidence. I’ve been an exercise junkie all my life, slightly bulimic early on but over it now. Currently, I do Burr Leonard’s Bar Method tapes – o mama, there’s nothing like it, especially when she says, “tuck again, you’re not done yet, life is full of second chances, we’re going to do the same set again” – and this after you’ve been doing triceps dips for 3 minutes straight! And because I am a feminist, my husband joins me in those workouts. But let me tell you – he hates the back dancing where you get to wiggle your hips ad infinitum.

  43. “What I’ve come to realize lately is that feminism (at least MY version of it) means embracing whatever CHOICE you want to make about how to dress, etc.”

    Exactly! I used to think feminism was very this or that, but it’s more complex than that. I have recently learned that it’s very much about choice and being comfortable with your choice, whatever it may be.

  44. Your strength in your honesty supersedes any other sizes “less” than yours – despite the inner-voice that keeps coming back to us every once in awhile. Thanks for writing about an inner and outer struggle against the insecurities and oppressions that hold us all back unless challenged. Very interesting blog that I was glad to read.

  45. Karen Gutrath

    I am just starting to blog and saw this article. Love it. Felt many of the same things and I think all women have size 0 to size 36.

    I struggled with body image and compulsive emotional eating as a young adult and I read my way out of it when I was finally tired of hearing myself complain.

    I liked Beauty Myth as well, and Fat is a feminist issue 1 and 2. I read everything that Geneen Roth wrote. Backlash, The Whole Women and Women’s Health Women’s Bodies, Sex Art and American Culture are all good reads too. I have some more lists if you are interested but these are the ones that I have actually read.

    Thanks

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  47. Good for you but seriously…
    *Facepalm*
    It saddens me that so many women have yet to realize that it is their choice on how society views them. I can see this mind set when you are in grade school and just want to fit in, but as an adult you need to grow up and get out of the bubble of thought you have brought onto yourself that people actually care. I know that is harsh but really, how many times a day do people stop you in the street to tell you you are fat or ugly? To honestly think that people walking by will judge you based solely on your appearance is ripe with arrogance and paranoia. I admit people do, but you can easily remedy that by either not caring, physically doing something about it, or not reinforcing their opinion by being an ass. (aka be nice, not mean)

    People in the fashion industry choose the unnaturally thin because that is their job. The reason it’s their job is because “thin” sells. It is a goal for a lot of women, and a lot of men like the look. Do not blame people for doing their job. They just want to make money, if somehow people aren’t interested in unnaturally thin women anymore, do you have any idea how fast the content of the magazines will change to match what the people want?

    It sounds like a lot of women care about the opinions of people that shouldn’t matter. “You’re fat” and “You’re ugly” are statements of the shallow. Looks only help.

    • That’s a good one too, but you are not a woman, so you don’t really know what you’re talking about. It’s easy to say “grow up” out of whatever insecurities we have. Have you grown out of yours? Are you absolutely sure? I seriously doubt it. So give us the space to grow up at our own pace.

      (Was I too harsh? It’s because you sound like my father once upon a time, and his comments only exacerbated my misery. You can’t force someone to grow up too soon.)

      • Sorry for being a man!!
        Imagine if a female leader of a team, committee, electorate or nation wrote this, “you are not a woman, so you don’t really know what you’re talking about.”
        What a put down!!
        Women, and their apathy or otherwise, control the future of society. Men don’t have the option of falling pregnant or birthing. Some women of course will do anything for money. (What’s the feminist view on porn this month?)

        Woman leaders eg Margaret Thatcher, Hilary Clinton or Australia’s Gail Kelly (Westpac Bank) are hardly ‘feminist’ trailblazers. Celebrate being a woman but don’t hurt men in the process!!! EG,Why wear miniskirts or sexually parade your body? Use your God-given thinking faculties. As for lesbian chic …

      • Hey, Australian Ecoman – that’s a total straw man you’re pulling, combined with slippery slope and a couple of hasty generalizations. Is your male ego so fragile? Chill off and read my post again.

      • hannahfergesen

        I realize that the men reading this blog will find it easier to say that women should get over it or grow up, or that it’s unfair that we say men could not understand – but its true, Christotechne. Men are targeted by different sorts of media, it’s true. They are told by their own magazines, by celebrities, by movies, to have a certain body type or look. But women have long been told, how you look matters more than how men look. The attractiveness of a woman always determined if a woman could marry, if she could keep a man, etc. We are shown images of thin, large breasted women wearing skimpy lingerie in stores targeted at us. no at men, and told that is the ideal. How do you compete with that? Walk around your local mall and count how many images use the way a woman looks to cell something- cell phone ads, food ads, clothing, underwear, everything. Skinny, “sexy” woman sell more products than men, guaranteed. This is where the message that we are not good enough as is comes from, and when you are bombarded with it daily, it is nearly impossible to break free. Trying to tell someone that to grow up is the best solution to the problem, only fuels the fire. Change needs to happen on *both* sides.

      • Hmmm, I see your point. And no, I haven’t grown out of my insecurities, that is what being self aware is all about. But, I have learned to control my emotions to a certain degree so negative emotions are minimal.

        I don’t mean “grow up” as in build the bridge right now and get over it. No. I mean more like think about why you are having such thoughts. Really think about why. Why do you care about other people’s opinions? Why do you care about society’s opinion? A mature and long thought process. It’s only been a little while since I truly moved on from caring about what other people think. The only opinions that matter to me are from the people that are close to me and who are in a position to benefit me.

        It’s not like men are not targeted by similar ads that women are. They are starting to be pretty much for the same kinds of products. Clothes, accessories, etc. As you can clearly see, all of them have hairless, evenly muscled bodies. And would probably look just as good in a garbage bag.

        Change is probably something we will have to deal without, unless something extraordinary happens. By the way, I’m just trying to spark up a friendly debate or discussion over this. I’m fascinated over different points of view, the collective knowledge of the crowd, and just plain knowledge.

      • Jason – thanks for your thoughtful response! Yes, Socratic dialogue is the best. Otherwise we end up monologuing (responding with the “me too, me too” type).

      • Kitty Jabbour

        I love all the comments Jason’s perspective sparked.

        It’s true though, we all have the power to change things, it’s just whether we choose to take action or not.

        Jason, I totally dig your point about growing up (last reply post) – I’m pretty self aware but only since a couple years ago, for reasons I’d rather not disclose.

        Thinking back now, it took me nigh on 18 years to step back and look at my life and just accept the fact that it was only really me hurting myself by caring about what others thought.

        Not anymore.

        I definitely have the ‘f*ck you if you don’t like me’ attitude but that has only developed from all the other sh*t that’s happened through my life, the sh*t just made me stronger.

        And Hannah, you’re so right too – there needs to be a lot of changes in attitudes on both sides. And let’s face it, it is women who are the bigger consumers, so it’s no surprise that the media targets women more than men, though that is of course changing as men are now caught up in the whole idea of what the most desired men should look like. Do you know how many of my male friends use moisturizers, get their nails and hair done regularly, get waxed? And to clarify (sorry to differentiate), these are straight men.

        I also think that men’s place in society and the order of things has been, and continues to be, challenged massively over the last 100 years. Women aren’t just mothers and a family’s rock anymore – they are also the breadwinners, the ones who can stand independantly on their own, like it or lump it. Do men know where they stand anymore?

        I guess what goes around comes around.

        I love humans but sometimes we just do it to ourselves.

    • Jess

      This post is simply uninformed. You clearly do not know what it means to inhabit a female body. I am a size 6-8, and I’ve been called a fat bitch on the street while jogging. On another separate occasion when I was a size 2, I was also called a fat bitch (once again) while jogging. Another time, while walking the streets, a guy yelled out of a car, You are so disgustingly ugly.

      This becomes even more complicated when compared with other verbal and physical assaults I have received in public spaces. I have experienced sexual assault (public masturbation) four times while riding the subway. I have also been groped in public by a stranger in a grocery store. I have been harassed constantly on the streets by men who have made lewd comments about my chest and ass.

      Women are objects of either of desire or degradation, depending on the day, the outfit, and the man doing the objectifying. This causes women to feel in a constant state of instability in their physical identity. Women carry this with them every day, and it is very hard to ignore when you are constantly bombarded with positive and/or negative comments in both private AND public spaces, oftentimes by people who are not just superficial jerks (i.e. mothers, brothers, boyfriends, etc.)

      I understand that men have their particular burdens, and I am highly sympathetic to their struggles in society; however, let us not undermine this very real problem that women experience by suggesting that it is simply in their minds and they just have to get over it and find security within themselves.

  48. Wow, look how many comments you have and what an inspiration you are to so many women! I consider myself feminist but struggle with the fact that I’m still an AUS size 8-10 and diet and exercise to make myself that way. I love fashion and looking good, but I consider myself strongly feminist. I can still relate to your feelings of feeling unbeautiful, I feel fat every time I flick on T.V.

    I suggest reading Natasha Walter’s Living Dolls. It has a heavy British feel but is absolutely brilliant and very modern (this year released).

    I will be following your blog, keep up the hard work.

  49. “After all, it wouldn’t do the movement any good if I or anyone else waits to do radical social justice work until we’re “feminist enough,” unblemished, for public consumption. I don’t believe my sisters will be put off by my scars and scrapes but instead will see them and be more able to see, accept, and heal their own.”

    I love that. Thank you for posting this.

  50. sherlanova

    Like this post! ^^
    It’s nice to know that women
    and girls nowadays realize that
    they’re far more better (and
    healthier!) then those in
    consumer magz….

  51. Pingback: The Reflections of a Wet Sewer Rat « Theuncertainbell's Blog

  52. hannahfergesen

    Thank you for this. I have recently been dealing with similar issues and, within the last month, made a pact with myself to be healthier. I have no desire to be skinnier – I am an average size and I have come to realize that my curves are beautiful. But I have also neglected my body in a lot of ways. What I have learned is that, you can be skinny, or look “healthy”, and be unfit and truly unhealthy. I took a bike ride the other day and was amazed that, despite my normal size, I could barely bike 2 mile! My body deserves better. It has carried me through life since birth, and I should reciprocate by eating better and being more active. This is something all people should strive to do. If we could forget the whole “rail thin” ideal, and take on a “healthy” ideal, Americans would be so much better off. Being too skinny is just as damaging to your body as being morbidly obese, and that’s what America has yet to realize.

  53. Thank you for this post.

    I don’t understand why people crazy about the thinning of the robot model. Why choose fashion model skinny. Become values in girls. It causes health problems. Including mental health. and including with myself.

    The popular high-heeled shoes. Result in bad health long time. I like but I choose only occasionally.

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  55. Great work. I think I just figured out what I want to do for the rest of my life.
    I’m only a teenager, and I’m a size 7-8-9, but I was so inspired by your story. I hate the fashion industry, because all they do is airbrush and photoshop and starve their models to a point where they’re irrecognizable even to themselves. I did a report on eating disorders, and the main cause of most of them is the MEDIA! From personal experience, I agree. I could feel so good about myself one day, then read Seventeen or watch The Hills and instantly feel like crap. But you’ve helped me realize that beauty is really in the eye of the beholder. It’s different to everyone.
    So, thank you. I hope to see some change imposed in the world of fashion because of the work you do.

  56. I thank you and congratulations to you because people are today more affected virus that will kill them slowly
    http://theidiotgame.com source

  57. I read in “Be Your Own Guru” by Olivia Stefanino that our subconscious minds can’t differentiate from reality and imagination. Our subconscious sees loss as being bad for us thus will try its best to get you to ‘magically’ get a candy bar instead of making you reach out for a skipping rope.

    So think of why it’s so important for you to lose weight, get your subconscious mind to understand. You will consciously start losing weight. Just a theory, see if it helps. :)

  58. This is a wonderful post! I will be doing my MA on women and their public image so thank you for your insight.

  59. Oh, and you’re not anti-feminist. Feminism is always being redefined but it always means aspiring to the best woman you can be and being at peace with the woman you are today.

    • Kitty Jabbour

      “[...] aspiring to the best woman you can be and being at peace with the woman you are today.”

      i love this line because it’s so damn true!

  60. Claire

    Yes, thank you for that post. It really spoke to me.

  61. karen lee thompson

    What a great post. So glad I stumbled upon it.
    A few years ago, I undertook an anthropological study in the on-line world of ‘Second Life’. The resulting assignment was titled ‘Does My Avatar Look Fat in This? [searching for connectivity and acceptance in an alternative world]‘. This totally foreign (to me) world allows its inhabitants to choose practically any image they desire and my study found that men were far more experimental in this regard. Women, though, seemed to stick with their notions of a desirable self.
    Here’s a little except that may interest you in the context of this discussion:
    “Despite endless possibilities in the virtual world, ranging from the ability to choose my gender and sculpt the style of my avatar, I built myself a representation that corresponds to everything many modern women aspire to in the real world. Like many others, I replicated my First-life (or Real-life) needs and desires to produce a slim, well-dressed, young woman with long shiny hair. I was constantly concerned about the same things as I was in real life: Did I fit in? Was I attractive? Were my clothes suitable?”
    I remember being annoyed with myself for cinching in that waist, elongating the legs, even giving myself tiny feet (in real life I take a size 10 shoe)…pathetic!

  62. Pingback: I’m really digging the body acceptance message « No Excuses/No Mercy

  63. Rainbow Riot

    Great post. I have dealt with body image for my whole life, so it is great to hear a fellow feminist blogger reveal personal insecurity… and relate it to the fashion industry! Keep fighting the good fight.

    Yours in solidarity,

    Rainbow Riot

  64. Thank you for telling your story and being so candid about your feelings. Women of all sizes are faced with feelings of inadequacy and a lack of self assurance and although I may not be a size 12, I’ve spent my fair share of afternoons crying and stomping my feet in the fitting rooms where the interrogation-room lighting illuminates every flaw possible.

    The reaction from your readers alone shows that you’re not along, although that may not be enough consolation, and that being the pretty girl doesn’t always equate to an easy ride either. Respect and admiration from other women and from peers is far more valuable that having a pretty face envied by others. At least, that’s my opinion.

    Thank you for such a wonderful post.

  65. that should read “you are not alone…” not along!

  66. Many bloggers with wonderful posts. I learn a lot.

  67. Awesome post.
    I love your banged up knees and kick ass shoes.
    There is nothing more wonderful then a woman who has lived.
    Forget those who don’t even eat.

  68. Interesting article. I enjoyed the honesty!
    I haven’t read all the comments so apologies if it’s allready been suggested but I can’t recomend Bodies by Susie Orbach enough.

    (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bodies-Big-Ideas-Susie-Orbach/dp/1846680190)

    You might also be interested in the AnyBody project which she is convener of:

    http://www.any-body.org/

    sxx

  69. expatsophie

    Thank you for such an inspiring post! When I moved from Louisiana to New York City in my early 20′s, I had the same revelation: there were a million different kinds of pretty, and the fact that I had a brain was actually not a liability. I think Southern culture is just about the worst as far as the emphasis it places on conventional female beauty. Thank you for being so open about your experience. I could definitely relate.

  70. Getting a glimpse of a ‘day in the life’ of someone else is always interesting, but feeling that I can actually relate to it, is amazing. You’re a brilliant writer, and its great that you can be so honest about how you’re feeling. I like, especially, that you didn’t seem to blame the others for what you were feeling. I suppose it is true–we’re our own hardest critic, and no one else can make you feel less than you are, unless you let them.

  71. Kitty Jabbour

    Hmmm… your article gave me pause for thought.

    Background: born in the Middle East to a German father and Arabic mother, constantly surrounded by the traditional and conservative views of the Arab world, albeit being Catholic, realised the power of being a woman at the tender age of 7 when playing kiss chase in the playground. I had a rude awakening to reality when we were forced to move to the UK because of the Gulf War in 1990.

    Dealt with bullying from the word go: I didn’t know what sex was, didn’t know anything about cliques, didn’t know anything about anything really…

    But what strikes me now is the fact that before I was introduced into the Western world, I had no concept of women stabbing each other in the back because of the way the other looked, or of not being able to get a boyfriend because all the other girls were taking the piss out of me and a boy wouldn’t have wanted to be seen dead with me because he’d have the piss taken out of him.

    In UK sizes, I’m a 12-14, which I think is an 8-10 in US sizes. I’m not typically beautiful, in the sense of what magazines and media typically portray beauty as. I have a complete hour-glass figure and I think I’ve learned to love my body, though I don’t think I’ve ever really hated it – that was someone else’s thoughts impeding themselves on mine; in Africa, the West Indies and South America, they’d love my ass but in the UK and Europe, I’m just that little bit too big.

    Going back to the point about being yourself though: I am who I am now. In 20 years I have found peace only just recently. And people most notice it by the way I dress now. Every day I’m different: I go from classic to grunge to eccentric to casual to smart fashion any day I choose because guess what? That’s who I am, and if you don’t like it, I don’t care.

    What upsets me the most about the world I moved into though, is the fact that it’s not been very often that it’s a man who has punished me for the way I look but rather it’s always been the women. Go figure?

    So, am I a feminist? I don’t know. In an ideal world we’d all be allowed to be ourselves without comment from anyone else, and of course as long as it isn’t hurting anyone else to be oneself.

    In the end, I hope that all my female friends take some of my ‘f*ck you if you don’t like me’ attitude and use it for themselves and stop stabbing each other in the back. Enough is quite simply enough.

  72. Michael

    Thank you posting this. I think I’m not alone as a guy in saying that nobody asked me when they decided to portray the ideal woman. I think there is a wide range of women who are attractive and healthy, and I feel truly bad that the pressure for women to be perfect is so distorting.

    It’s one thing to blame marketing, but Marketing thinks they’re slaves to us, the consumer.

    What should men do to alleviate this problem, addition to finding more life affirming ways to define “attractive?”

  73. I so understand and relate to your feelings in this post…I am now a size 12, having been as large as a 24/26, and am still in the process of making peace with my body.

    While I’m now a more ‘socially acceptable’ size, I will have to go through something very similar to your experience shortly, as I’m a member of a panel that will have a photo shoot in early July.

    Hopefully they will have fierce clothes for me, but if they don’t, your article has ensured that I will bring something that works for ME and reflects the current styles that are in the magazines.

    I do not consider that wearing makeup, high heels or whatever makes you smile makes you less of a feminist – I am, at times, a “rabid” feminist and love to wear killer heels like the ones you describe.

    Bottom line – I LOVE your post…will be quoting you on my blog today!

  74. Anne Docherty

    Beauty does things to our brain. We all know it, be it the mountain vistas, the Great Barrier Reef, babies, that love at first sight guy.
    It messes with all our minds because when it comes to sizing ourselves up against that other; beauty seems to trump it all. It steals our confidence and credentials and even steals our enjoyment of the beauty.
    Even “ugly” endangered species have a hard time competing with the endearing fluffy ones.
    As a fifty year old woman who went through a marriage break up and then cancer with a double mastectomy and chemotherapy and waiting on breast reconstruction (and having “chemo brain”), I get the body image thing. I can put on the make up and the prosthetics and style my thin chemo hair and actually look rather feminine, but it’s sometimes demoralizing at the end of the day when it all comes off.
    We all have our baggage. I won’t demonize beauty and how I love beautiful things. I find beauty in so many things and even beautiful people. I know what I love better though is the beautiful intelligent minds. There’s a song by The Northern Pikes, “She ain’t pretty she just looks that way”. I sometimes listen to it when I have one of those moments to remind me that the shell doesn’t define the contents. Love the beauty, inside and out.

  75. I’m so glad I took a few minutes to read this post!
    For most of my life, I was the way underweight girl who got made fun of for being bony, flat chested, and scrawny. (Yeah, skinny girls get beat up on emotionally, too.)

    I had a brief period in my 30s where I felt pretty darn hot as my body filled out, but now I’m in my mid-40s and feeling definitely … plump. And you know what? I feel a lot better about myself now than I did at 20 or 30. As I’ve aged, I’ve learned to love the person I’ve become, and now understand what it means to be loved for who I am, not what I look like.

    Anyway, just stumbled on the post and wanted to say thanks for being so honest and sharing the story!

  76. megahammermaniac

    I love your blog and (almost) all the comments!!! I sure wish I’d have been able to hear this 40-some years ago when I was dealing with my own size 12 issues!

    I’m living my life now trying to focus on being healthy…and oddly enough I finally seem to be slowly losing weight. I was up to size 22-24, and am now hovering between 18-20. My husband of 32 years is always telling me he’s amazed how beautiful I am, yet one of the things he told me when we married was that I’d better not get fat!!!

    Life is good, but it’s so much better when we don’t beat up ourselves!

  77. Ms. Knox :) Thank you so much for that very reachable snippet of your personal thoughts and experiences. I’ve really tried hard to discuss the difference between what we should feel about our bodies and what our internal dialogue sometimes does to us. You really did a great job showing an honest facet of that. Much as I appreciate the gift that Gloria Steinem gave, you’ve got your own identity and your own gift to give as well. Don’t let anyone put you in a corner. That piece rocked. :)

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  80. I love the honesty and vulnerability you gift us with in your post.

    We are truly more than our bodies, and yet in our bodies we are.

    I think what’s hurting us all is that on-screen/magazine images so powerfully communicate only one dimension of who we are as humans. We don’t typically get the “backstory” that you are sharing here.

    There’s an art project in Winnipeg Canada you should know about. See my blog, http://www.justasiamproject.blogspot.com. In the project, ordinary people bare their bodies and souls by answering the question “Who am I?”

  81. I loved this post. It was very honest and was inspiring to read.

  82. Pingback: Shelby Knox on being an Antifeminist (Role) Model | How to Love Your Reflection

  83. Lily

    I absolutely sympathize with the weird, strange, demoralizing, emotional experience photo shoots can often be. I work a lot of jobs, and modeling is one of them–I’m a pretty average size (12-15, depending on who makes the clothes), short, and not at all good at fitting the baseline beauty standard. I try working projects with nice, professional people, but it can be painful. Stylists freak out over how to make you look ‘good,’ makeup artists try and figure out what to do with your face, and the other models are invariably gorgeous, tall, and not at all accustomed to seeing you, as a person or a model.

    I can promise you–not all photoshoots are like that, but man, the ones that are…I’m sorry you had to deal with the painful parts. But there are shoots that are the utter opposite. It’s why I keep modeling.

  84. How sad that the designer supplied closet of a mainstream women’s magazine wanting to portray the look of a realistic looking feminist would not have clothing in your size. Was this a spur of the moment whim they had? Why hadn’t they taken notice of the recent campaign by Lane Bryant or the trends toward using realistic models? It seems they were horribly out of touch. What a bummer about your knees getting scraped up after having to model in those feminist super-high heels.

  85. Gary Myers

    I seem to be receiving your comments links for your blog to my email. I’m not sure why.

  86. Laurens R. Hunt

    It is a very riveting story, and you have a lot of courage. This life story is very important. I struggle with my own weight (and Loss) because I vacillate. I am glad to know that many of the feminist groups celebrate “Love Your Body” Day. The percentage of women who are very tall with no belly or stomach is probably in the lower single digits. These images are abusive to women as a whole, but they are also uncharacteristic of the real world. In addition many women have died as a result of extreme thinness. Where is the beauty in that? There is none, just a stark reminder of how not to be and what not to do. Keep up the great work.

  87. Pingback: 2010 NOW Conference Spotlights Body Image « Women's Law Project Blog

  88. Thank you for sharing your experience. Very insightful.

    Cheers, Niconica
    http://niconica.wordpress.com

  89. Stephanie

    I am also from Texas and went to UT Austin. I find it surprising that upon moving to NYC you felt better about your weight. Texas has so many more overweight people that New York. Fat people are hated everywhere they go, but especially in the fashion capital of the country.

  90. Dear Shelby:

    I think you are fabulous, and incredibly sensitive to the issue of others, not only women. I think if I had to walk a mile in your shoes, I wouldn’t know quite which direction to take because being so careful and “correct” most definitely makes you a target for the masses, even those people who claim to support you. Hopefully, I will not be “that girl,” but I would like an opportunity to engage with some of the ideas you present, if I may.

    I just have an itty-bitty issue with the term “a real looking woman.” I find it so divisive. I “get” what you mean in using the world “real” but aren’t all women “real?” Why does my version of “real” have to be your version of “real? We all start out as “real” do we not? And whether we choose to adorn ourselves with the trappings of our material world, it doesn’t make us less “real” than the women who choose a different real/ity than you.

    I also have to say that while I respect what you went through in that photoshoot [it sounded perfectly horrible, and I applaud your tenacity even though you broke down], I have to wonder what you expected. I’m sure that you didn’t expect to feel humiliated, but the world of print & fashion is like that. Even the so-called pretty girls undergo and soul-annihilating experience to achieve that so-called magazine perfection. [Sigh, now I'm sounding like the fashion divas who say that magazines don't make girls skinny or fat]. But my point is to find that balance and then live with your choices. Did you really think that a professional photoshoot would have you wear your own clothes? This is naive.

    Ugh, I feel like I’m just getting started. But I have to take my girls swimming. I look forward to becoming fully immersed in your very interesting world.

    Much respect!
    xobolaji

    I could go on. In fact, I did. The issue of “Real Women” was one of my first blog entries written as a letter to Oprah [http://bit.ly/buzr66].

    Anyway, if I could, I would spend more time on the subject, but my 2 and 5 year old want the first in a succession of things to eat after breakfast. Such is life. Keep up the beautiful dream, and thank you for inspiring all of us to ‘keep hope alive.’

    Sincerely,
    xobolaji

  91. Hannah

    I also find it interesting, like Stephanie, that you felt so out of place/excluded in Texas, especially Lubbock. You are obviously a lovely woman and I’m sad that West Texas kindness never translated to you!

  92. what a crummy experience. it does strike me that you immediately go to ‘i need to do all this work on myself so i don’t react this way’…which is fine and good. at the same time – you were alone with a bunch of people who, either explicitly or implicitly, were behaving with the purpose of putting you down. you know, choosing crappy clothes for ‘the bigger one’, etc. no one said to the stylist ‘why don’t you do your job and make great clothes choices for EVERYBODY? or do you just have this little tiny area in which you can function competently?’ it sounds to me like the other people at that photo shoot subjected you to a bunch of peer pressure to feel crappy, on top of whatever past baggage you may have.

    in other words, it’s not just you. there are plenty of people out there in the world actively pushing this crap and manipulating other people, and putting them down. those voices in our heads got there from outside! i’ve found that speaking up to other people about my experiences, firstly after the fact and later, as i gained courage, while bs. was occurring, has made a huge difference in how i view myself. i’d encourage other people to try it out too – just like you’ve done in this post today.

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  94. Claire

    Okay, so I just stumbled across here and read this and want to tell you: fucking hell, you are awesome.

    I heart this post ridonkulously. And I am very discriminating with my heartage of the internet variety. Reading this has made my evening, and by saying so, hope I can improve your day to some degree, in a similar way (Youtube comments are fantastic for annihilating ones faith in humanity, so reading this has brought me right back up!).

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  96. Sarah

    Hey dear – So, I’m not sure if this will be at all helpful, but:

    My mom sent me a box of fun things last week and in it was that issue of Marie Claire. It’s where I first read your name and story (ironic because my mother hates feminism). I stumbled across you again today from Tumblr’s advertisement of the panel you’ll be on about young feminists. So of course, I came to browse your blog. And then, to see this entry – well, I flipped back through the Marie Claire, and let me tell you, you look like a strong, sassy, confident, beautiful woman, as I’m sure you are. Those voices are so hard to exorcise, but wow – they are lying to you. Completely. The outside only matches the inside – a beautiful, indignant, intelligent, brave fighter. I’m sorry you had to shed tears over those frustrating voices.

    Much love and thanks for all your work. As a newly hatched feminist from Texas -
    sp

  97. Mark

    Despite the humor of your post, I felt sad when I read this piece. Why? The thought that such a stunningly beautiful, clever, sussed woman should feel unhappy with the way her body looks. You’re perfect! Honestly, you are. Don’t change a thing! And especially, don’t have any truck with people in the fashion industry who pedal products that made you cry or cause your legs such damage that they bleed. You are better than any of them :-)

  98. Escarfcaure

    Hello all! I like this forum, i set up numberless gripping people on this forum.!!!

    Large Community, consideration all!

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