Yesterday I spent my lunch break listening to Jes “Militant” Baker address body image and challenging people to quit changing their bodies and start changing their world. GREAT way to spend my lunch hour!
Photo by Liora K Photography
The self-proclaimed “blogger, baker and bad-ass hell raiser” has become well known for her unapologetic opposition to society’s definition of beautiful. Her bold move to speak out against Abercrombie & Fitch has garnered a lot of attention. And it was brilliant.
Hearing her speak in person was wonderful. She’s open, friendly, and just totally herself. From the random 3 second silent dance breaks as she prepared her next thoughts, to the thoughtful way she knelt down to get on the same level as the person whose question she was answering, she put the audience at ease while also making us uncomfortable by blatantly talking about what we’ve been taught to not talk about. She shared personal parts of her story – including sobbing over her computer keyboard – and made me feel even more strongly about the desire I have to encourage people to love who they are – and how they look – and embrace that in photographs.
Obviously, as a photographer I responded to the way she has garnered the strength and power that photographs can convey. I also wanted to stand up and shout “Amen! Hallelujah!! Preach!!!” when she displayed side-by-side images of original photos and the photoshopped versions that the media actually presents. Images of beautiful people – including Jessica Alba and George Clooney – who need no retouching, but all of a sudden have no wrinkles (or waistline for that matter). It just breaks my heart to know that people, and young girls in particular, are expecting to look like those “after” photos. I seriously hope that in some way I can instill in my own daughter confidence and appreciation of her own body as she grows up.
I would absolutely love to live in a world where no one puts off family portraits until they’ve lost those 10lbs. Where the Christmas card photo has the whole family, and not just the kids because mom hasn’t been able to pay to get her hair colored. Where the woman sees her laugh lines in her portraits and smiles thinking about how they got there, rather than wishing they would have been “touched up”. Where the man sees the scar in his portrait and feels empowered because it represents his strength and all he has been through. Where the little girl never sees the day when she looks in the mirror and starts picking herself apart rather than marveling at the wonder that is her body.
I’ve mentioned this before, and I’m sure I will again. I, as a photographer and as a woman, choose to not do heavy retouching on the images I take. I choose to celebrate the so-called imperfections that make me “me”. I challenge myself to re-focus my frame of mind when it comes to body image.
Thank you, Jes, for challenging society to cut the crap and get real about our bodies and the expectations we have of ourselves and others. And thanks for being kind enough to chat after your presentation and take a picture with me! (Please excuse the terrible quality phone shot.)
Jes challenged all of us to think of some sort of tagline/mantra that represents positive self-thoughts. If we couldn’t think of a tagline, we needed to think of one thing we like about our bodies. She challenged us to then say them out loud and share them with the room. I didn’t step up to the plate in that room, but I’m going to do it now.
I love that my body was able to create the miracle that is my daughter. And I like my eyes.
Now it’s your turn! Take that first step to re-framing your mindset on body image, and focus on loving yourself. What’s your tagline/mantra/thing you love about yourself? Share it in the comments, and start living boldly and loving who you are.