body shaming

Can you imagine being a woman in the spotlight and having an unflattering photo of you plastered onto the internet? To be berated in the public eye? 

To me, that sounds awful. As women, there are so many ways in which we can feel like we aren't enough. Often our own worst critics, we don't need anyone else pointing out our so called flaws. Especially when it's done on a public level. So when I came across a post from Natasha Oakley, explaining how she had been body shamed, I felt for her. Not surprisingly, posting photos of yourself in a bikini will get you a lot of attention. Unfortunately, not all of it will be positive. 

In case you aren't familiar with the well known Aussie, Natasha is 1/2 of the popular A Bikini A Day duo. Just a few years ago, two best friends set out to create an Instagram account based around their lifestyle. And before they knew it, their bikini pics were garnering millions of followers. They now have a bikini line that sells out quickly each season, as well as an active wear line. One look at either woman's feed and you would know that body shaming either of them is pretty insane. But that didn't seem to stop a female writer from a well known Australian publication. The writer managed to find the worst possible beach paparazzi photos of Natasha and call her out for cellulite. She also claimed that Natasha's photo ready figure was a sham, merely the results of filters and good angles.

Instead of staying quiet, Natasha stood up for herself. She informed this journalist on the importance of championing other women, instead of bashing them. Reading this reminded me of a time when I was out at a popular West Side bar. A member of the group I was with looked over to a woman on the opposite side of the room and decided to critique her body. 

"That girl should not be wearing those pants," she finished by saying. She then turned back to the group, waiting for confirmation. Another one of the women wanted no part of it and made that very clear. 

"I will not judge another woman's body."

I couldn't think of a more perfect response. After hearing it, I was awed by its power. It is so easy to point out things that we don't like, both in ourselves and other people. But what if we weren't willing to do it. What if we actively said no to being a part of this subtle violence against bodies and the humans that they house? I believe that the changes we want to see in the world can always begin within us. Standing up to the world of social media and magazines may seem like a daunting task. But if we each refused to participate in body shaming and focused on the things that we loved in the world, this would be a very different planet. 

So today I challenge you to focus on finding beauty. To honor the things that you like about yourself. To look for the good in others when you are out in the world. Energy starts at the level of the mind, so even if you aren't saying what you think, it is still felt on a subtle level. Pay attention to your thoughts. If negativity arises, try to challenge it. With everything that is going on in the world right now, extra support and love towards all beings is so needed. 

Photo: Matisse

Kenna Conway