This is a conversation that I had with a friend via facebook. The picture is neither her nor I but it shows lovely stretch marks. I say lovely because I truly mean lovely. Even when a woman has not posed for the I am project she still has a story. Whether that story be good or bad I hope that it will have a healing and positive effect now.
Blown away by the I Am Project. It made me cry; or more technically is making me do so. Settling in to watch the interview, but didn't want to wait that long to message you. Women and girls *viscerally need* this type of visual and artistic support.
It's like Lizzie Miller's photo in Glamour, but taken to a whole new, dizzyingly wonderful level! I'm so glad artists like you and Joe are in the world making it a better and more open-minded place. It utterly inspires me.
I'm glad that the project touches you. I want it to touch many people and hopefully make a positive impact. I hope that it will touch and support girls and women but men and boys alike. When all a boy sees of the female body are pictures he's glimpsed in a nudie mag he has swiped from a grown man, likely one he is related to, he has no idea what a "real" woman looks like.
Anyway, I'm all about opening minds and changing perceptions.
When I was eight years old I remember getting a new swimsuit from Sears for a YMCA swimming class. Besides being brand-new, it was FUN. As soon as I got home, I put it on and went tearing out to the family room to show my Dad.
He didn't remark on the rainbow-colored half-bullseye that came from the side seam, or how tickled I was, or how radiantly beautiful. He pointed to my hip, looked at my mother, and said with concern, "Are those stretch marks?!" I had no idea what stretch marks were, but it didn't take a rocket scientist to know that Daddy's Pretty Plus daughter shouldn't be happy about having them.
A lifetime of experiences later, and raising two girls, I think immediately (and often) about the impact the media plays in changing the hearts and minds of our girls. You make a really important point, however, that boys and men also need beautiful reminders that the bodies of women come in many wonderful shapes and sizes. Thank you for reminding me of it, too!
I have story of hips as well. My mother had me when she was a ripe old age of 17, and had natural child birth in the hospital with no support team to call her own. I love her for that. However one of the first things she said after I was born was when the Dr. put me on the scale and he pronounced me to be a whopping 5lb 13 oz she said "throw the other thigh on the scale". This comment was a double whammy in that it was self deprecating and casting large thighs on to her tiny newborn as the way it was going to be and it was not a beautiful thing.
I guess that was a thigh story and not a hip story. Nonetheless parents really need to be aware of their words and the impact of those words on their children and what they believe and how they feel about themselves.
Wow K, it's amazing what 'weight' our words carry from our very first experiences onward! I imagine many women have at least one of those stories filed away inside her. I have no reservations whatsoever about the use of my swimsuit story on the blog. If it can be helpful to someone, then some good came of it.
I wish, in fact, I had the body to model for you. It's such a laudable project! But sadly I am completely certain I don't fit under the category of 'health-conscious woman'. :-( It's okay though-- many women do and you are finding them. Glad this project is back on the burner!
So I totally let this ball drop. Picking it back up now. Why do you think that you don't "fit" into the health conscious category? Have you had plastic surgery for reasons other than health/reconstructive issues or do you eat fast food every day? I don't mean to pry, I'm just curious.
No, nothing like that. My weight has, to some larger degree than many people, gone up and down my whole life. It has taken every little piece of my lifetime to accept my shape--
Besides that, it has now been 3.5 years since I got a good night's sleep. I have tried countless avenues to figure out why I can get to sleep, but not stay asleep. Through this process, I have gained 70#, lost memory, become a lot more moody, and basically feel fried much of the time.
I don't feel very healthy. I feel exhausted a lot of the time, actually. But my body has seen me through some exhaustive trials and tribulations, and I love it still. I just can't imagine calling this poor body heath-conscious. Not just now.
Now I understand. I am sorry to hear about your issues with insomnia. It really is hard on a body. I certainly would not however say that you aren't health conscious because of it. If anything you are even more conscious and on a path of discovery. Anyway, I think you're amazing and would be a welcome addition to the project. No pressure. I'm just saying. Thank you for sharing your story with me. I love to learn more about people and get a glimpse into their lives. That's why I love my job so much.
Thank you very much-- I appreciate the positive thoughts. It's been a long couple years, but a friend came over just today to try to cope with yesterday's shocking diagnosis of breast cancer-- with no history and she herself a hard-core breastfeeder of two lovely young girls. It reminds me that every journey is just plain wilder than we expect at the outset.