IN YOUR WORDS
In 2010, we started The Body Image Project with a call for your input:
We received thousands of comments. No two were the same, yet the same themes emerged again and again:
- body image is an important issue for people of all shapes, sizes, and ethnic backgrounds
- body image affects men and women
- media influences body image
- society’s definition of beauty is limited
- body image influences how we treat our bodies
- body image influences quality of life
- body image affects our relationships and our aspirations
- body image influences how you feel about yourself as a person
- sometimes it’s hard to define ourselves without factoring in our looks
- achieving healthy weight can be a struggle
- feeling good in your own skin can be a challenge
- teasing/bullying hurts and is often related to appearance
- It is possible to feel good about your body!
Your responses have provided the inspiration and direction for the programs to be featured on Emerge. For this, we are sincerely grateful.
—Ugly, 14 from Austin, TX US
The day I tuned in to what my body was telling me, my life changed forever. Stop just for one moment and listen. You’ll be amazed what you hear.
-Sheena Mason, 50 from Glasgow, Scotland
I’ve been struggling with weight ever since I was in my pre-teens. Society has always put this idea in my head that I was never good enough. I went through hell these past years to lose weight, and then I realized just now, “What’s wrong with how I look?” I’m healthy. I’m not skinny, but I’m at a healthy weight. And I’m starting to realize that I’m okay with that.
-A, 15 from Bergenfield, NJ US
I’m not as nice to my body as I should be. I am constantly obsessing over food and telling myself I should be thinner. Sometimes I starve myself and other times I binge. It’s disgusting. I dread the days when I look in the mirror and hate what I see. It’s most days. I wish it just didn’t matter.
-Roxy, 24 from Jackson, MS US
Over the last 5 years I have struggled with my diet and weight and the consequences that came with a warped mindset. Last year I developed a severe binge-eating disorder, but overcame it over the summer. Health > weight. It’s something I wish I could place into everyone’s heads. Physical health is hand-in-hand with mental health, and with those two comes a serious reduction in eating issues. I wish I had been able to accept this sooner.
—E, 19 from Gainesville, FL US
Body image is important to me because I know you have to love yourself to fully love and to be loved. Body image is more than just feeling beautiful, it’s about KNOWING I’m beautiful, knowing I’m perfectly imperfect. It’s respecting yourself. Respecting others. I saw this quote – I put it on my bathroom mirror- it always puts a smile on my face- “The scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. That’s it. It cannot measure beauty, talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength, or love. Don’t give the scale more power than it has earned. Take note of the number, then get off the scale and live your life. You are beautiful!”- Steve Maraboli – It’s part of a full piece entitled “Get Off The Scale!” I encourage everyone to google it. Thanks for all the comments on here – they inspire me.
-Jessica, 24 from Ogden, UT US
I feel everyone should have a positive attitude about their bodies because you are beautiful just the way you are, no matter what people say.
-Leona, 14 from Schenectady, NY US
I recently told my parents about my eating disorder: bulimia/ anorexia. I hope this project will help girls to realize that they are beautiful no matter what size or shape!
-Chelsea, 17 from Mount Laurel, NJ US
-Mia, 19 from Washington, DC US
At the age of 11 I was hospitalized for an eating disorder. The issue of body image has been a continuous struggle for me. Upon waking every morning and upon going to sleep every night, I take a sideways glance at the mirror wishing I was different. It seems that once I start to accept and feel comfortable with who I am, I see a skinny girl on the street or on the television. It hurts. But then I realize these are all social constructs anyways.
I’m tired of hating myself just to seem attractive. Life ought to be more meaningful, and today I will make it so by saying: “I love every ounce of who I am, because I am beautiful.”
A liberating thought once came to me, ‘Outer beauty is genetically given, but inner beauty is independently cultivated. That is why personality and character override anything on the surface.’
-Charlotte, 20 from El Cajon, CA US
As a teenager, I never felt beautiful. I would shy away from my body. I wish I could go back and embrace my body. You’re really beautiful. Know it.
-Laura, 28 from Norfolk, VA US
I think I am beautiful because I have a beautiful personality and smile.
-Mary Ellen, 53 from North Easton, MA US
I think that I’m beautiful, not because I’m thin but because I am a creature of this Earth and we are all beautiful.
-Teresa, 12 from Farmington, MI US
I feel so passionately about everyone loving their body just as it is that I’ve dedicated my senior thesis to the topic. Not only to share my passion, but to learn to love myself better. And honestly, it’s really starting to work!
-Jenn Hayes, 34 from Vancouver, WA US
I think my face is very beautiful, and I like my curves (sometimes). But other than that I don’t feel comfortable at all in my body. I feel that no guy could ever love me because I am too fat. I feel that I will never be able to fit in because of the size of my body. And these feelings just make me want to eat more and more so I just keep gaining weight.
-Lexi Blair, 14 from Lexington, KY US
I had breast reduction surgery this past summer. 5’0 and boobs isn’t a recipe for respectful attention from guys (let alone anyone). But even after surgery, I am not satisfied with my disproportional body. I wear clothes to cover myself up and avoid the beach at all costs. I wish the real me loved what my body looks like, but she doesn’t. One day though I will be satisfied with me just as I am. One day (hopefully soon).
-Megan, 19 from Azusa, CA US
For a while, I used to look at celebrities and feel ashamed of my body, but over time it has made me focus on the natural beauty within ordinary people, men and women alike.
-Optimist, 18 from US
It’s hard to genuinely love your body, without having an “I like my _____, but…” comment. By realizing the strength my body gives me, it has made me love my so-called imperfections for what they do for me, and not what I feel they hold me back from.
-Racheal, 26 from Drumheller, Canada
Sometimes, I feel there is a lot I can improve on physically. I feel that I need to be thinner, tanner, and more beautiful on the outside. But then I remember that everything, from snowflakes to flower petals, are shaped differently and are still beautiful. It makes it a little easier to accept the extra curves.
-Jennifer, 19 from Hackensack, NJ US
As an exercise in healing I wrote an open letter of apology to my body…
-Theresa Ruth Howard, 40 from New York, NY US
Everyone is beautiful in their own way and you shouldn’t have to change for anyone!
When I’m alone the real me sees a beautiful and amazing person but in the real world all I see is a weird, awkward and ordinary girl that lets what everyone thinks or says affect her, so how am I supposed to imagine the real me?
-Naomi, 16 from Katy, TX US
I often look at myself naked in the mirror and think, “I look freakin’ awesome today.” I hope I will still feel that way as I become older.
—Gabrielle, 17 from Gatineau, Canada
Just watching this video brought tears to my eyes. I cannot believe each woman interviewed was struggling with body image and ALL of them…yes ALL of them were beautiful in their own way. Sad how media has distorted how one should look. Take this from a man who was struggling with his own body image but lately has transformed that mindset positively where LOVING my body and keeping it healthy are my choices. I work on myself everyday in a positive way.
-Roland, 33 from Kuwait
I have always had body issues my whole life. I went and lost 45 lbs and still did not like myself. I put it all back on. No matter what size I was, I was still unhappy and I realized I needed to work on me. Accept me for me. It is hard but I’m working towards that every day. It will get better.
-Kim, 24 from North Kingstown, RI US
I am naturally not thin and when I was in high school I did a crash diet. I had to exercise every time I felt hungry because it burns more fat, I ate very little and didn’t have a period for about 3 months. Then I moved to Europe (I’m from Asia), and had difficult times here. I ate whenever I felt lonely and stressed. I ate compulsively and I gained like 10 kg. I didn’t recognise myself in the mirror. I got ridiculed a lot from old friends who said: “You’re so round! I don’t recognise you! WHAT have you eaten??? Your face is so chubby!! You´ve gained a lot of weight, haven’t you???!” Every time I heard these things I would cry.
Now I have dropped weight again, almost to normal. But I also have a better relationship with myself and with my body.
I won’t define myself just by how I look on the outside. It’s just temporary. It’s almost a coincidence how God chose in which body he would put my soul into. What matters is to see everyone through the heart.
I also learned to be kind and generous to myself, and to be thankful that I am here.
I may not be perfect in the way that society desires, but my body and I are ready to see the unsuperficial world
—Lia, 20 from Heidelberg, Germany
I hate my body so much that I am sitting home alone on New Year’s Eve because I’m too afraid to go to any parties. I’ve been invited to several but I just can’t go because I’m too fat. One party is being thrown by a friend who recently lost a lot of weight, and I can’t explain to her that I can’t be there because I look so huge next to her now. I am lonely and sad but I know I don’t deserve to have any fun or go out in public with this body of mine. I just don’t want to bother anyone.
-Anabel, 39 from Astoria, NY US
I think we are too consumed with the ideals of others. We need to find that comfort within ourselves and if that “fits the mold” great, if not you are still going to be happy with YOU! It’s easier said than done, but one day we may all be able to achieve that.
-sheka!, 18 from New Orleans, LA US
everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful everyone is beautiful
-Hassnaa Mohamed, 20 from Ismailia, Egypt
I can recall when I used to be a size 14 and thought I was big, when in reality I was what I consider now to be okay. I am wearing a size 18 now and have never felt so out of place. There is something more to me than my weight and my boyfriend constantly tells me that. I want to believe it too and I think this site can help me help myself because I’m doing a pretty bad job right now.
-Max, 23 from Marrero, LA US
THEY say: beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that it’s only skin deep. That you should love yourself…
Since I was about 14 I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with food. I’ve made myself sick after eating, even if it was only a sandwich because I just wanted to be beautiful. I’ve not eaten to the point where I’ve passed out in school. I’ve taken laxatives to get rid of anything in my body…but none of that works, it doesn’t make you beautiful. It’s an ugly, UGLY thing to go through.
To feel that way around food, to be nervous to eat, or so anxious to the point where you need to make yourself throw up–that’s so far from beauty.
I get that now. I try to love myself. People don’t know the struggles that I went through and overcame because, well, I was good at hiding it. ‘I’m just on a diet,’ ‘I don’t feel so good,’ ‘I ate earlier,’ ‘I have a fast metabolism.’ White lies made it possible, but hope made me see sense.
I’m 20 now, 5ft 5 and 9 stone. People tell me I’m beautiful. Men pay me attention and I dress myself up in beautiful clothes with the perfect make up, tan, nails and hair. University helps keep me focused on the future, not the past. But every day is hard. Every day I struggle. I eat and I want to throw up, but I won’t. I want to miss breakfast but I know, I KNOW I cannot, not if I truly want to be BEAUTIFUL.
One day I know I’ll get there and I’ll find a man who will tell me everyday how beautiful I am. Most importantly, I know one day I will believe it.
-Rachel, 20 from Fareham, Great Britain
I firmly believe that wasting days away being sad about a so called “perfect image” is useless. People: life is too damn short. Please LOVE yourself, and love life. You have everything to live for.
-Shelby, 18 from Glens Falls, NY US
I am fat and I know this. The truth is though, I like my body. If clothes fit me a little better and I didn’t feel so pressured by people like my Mom and society in general, I would be ok with how I look. The biggest thing that hurts is when a little kid will point to me or something and say “fat.” I’d be lying if I said that didn’t hurt. I like who I am and I think I am still pretty. I just wish other people would see that. I hate when people tell me they’re sure I’ll have lots of boyfriends… just not til college when boys care a lot less about what their friends think.
-Jess, 16 from Spokane, WA US
I want young women to love themselves just the way they are. I have struggled with my self image for so long. I have been overweight. I have been underweight. After being anorexic and losing my period years ago, I still can’t have a normal period. I don’t know what the long-term effects will be on my body. I should have been enjoying my life, but I was counting calories and overexerting myself with physical activity. I wish that I could have the time back that I wasted torturing myself and being self absorbed. To young women everywhere- Enjoy the body that you live in. Don’t waste time being superficial and self engrossed. Life is beautiful. I’m a baker and I love my profession but I had to go to therapy just to get the courage to pursue my passion because my obsession with weight was going to prevent me from being a baker. I work around food all day long and I have never been happier or healthier!
-Rhee Lightner, 31 from Santa Cruz, CA US
I’ve always been the bigger girl in school and out of school, and I hate the way I look. I feel like I’m not good enough and that unless I’m skinnier and prettier I will never be happy! Most boys seem to date gorgeous thin girls and I don’t tick those boxes, which makes me always self-conscious. I don’t like the way I am.
-Amy, 17 from Grays, Great Britain
“Imagine being one healthy whole in mind and body.” I was getting to the point where this seemed impossible – and I began to accept that. But now I’m looking forward to the day that I can have a healthy relationship with my body, and like it, me, for what I am.
-Hayley, 20 from Bristol, Great Britain
I have struggled with my body image since I was really young. Now I want to make others aware that it’s not an attention thing–it’s a real problem. I still struggle now but I’m getting help and others should too. I’m just looking forward to the day I can look in the mirror and smile about the way I look!
-Beth, 16 from Southampton, Great Britain
Sometimes I feel fat and sometimes I feel like everyone is just talking about how fat I am behind my back. But I see I am not fat at all. I want to be a model when I turn 18, but I always have my bad days… <3
-Lyzzie, 17 from Kingwood, TX US
I’ve always wondered exactly what day I began to hate my body, and why? What would make a person spend the greater part of 39 years hating the way they look?
I am glad that with age comes wisdom…I almost get it now…
-Shannon, 39 from Maple Ridge, Canada
I feel fat! And I feel I don’t fit in with my friends. It hurts.
—Jennyrosie, 15 from Dublin, Ireland
My body is a wonder machine. It does an unfathomable amount of work just for me. I can see all the colour and shapes of the world before me through my eyes and my mind’s eye is linked to all the dimensions I care to travel to. I can walk around at whatever pace I choose to at my own tempo on my own time. Eating is a pure pleasure…tasting all the delights that spread before me that day. I have ears that can pick up musical tones straight out of the air. My feet–this glory of design that lies at the end of my body–carry my weight. I am so grateful for getting to wherever I go. My skin wraps around snug and firm, keeping the good things in and dressing my body every day of my life. My hair an emblem of pride to be human: long, strong locks and antennae that reach out to the atmosphere. My hands…where would I be without my hands? They have given me so much and the pleasure to give in return. My voice cuts through the fog saying “listen to me I have something ….”
—someonefromdenmark from Denmark
I hate my body. I hate it. I hate it. I know I’m beautiful but that little voice in my head overrules the truth and tells me I’m not beautiful.
—Steph, 22 from West Chester, PA US
Body image will always be an issue to girls of any age as everyone’s perception of perfection is so different. I’ve read on here numerous girls who wish they had bigger boobs. I am a size 10 and I am a natural 34 G. I would do anything to have smaller boobs. To me they are an embarrassment and like a defect, but I no longer allow it to get me down. The way I see it, the grass is always greener on the other side and unless you accept who you are you will never be happy.
—Lucy, 20 from London, Great Britain
I just stumbled upon this sight/project. I am very moved. On my journey to becoming healthy and whole this will be a powerful tool that I use.
—Julie Jean, 33 from Huntington Beach, CA US
I think the ideal image of a girl’s body is way overrated. Come on. Big boobs, big bum, tall and skinny? I’m sorry, but I think if we all looked like that life would be pretty damn boring Everybody is going to pick out flaws; it’s just the society we live in. And most people point out your flaws to make their flaws look better
But I wouldn’t complain if I had that ideal body. I’m 5 ft. 2. Maybe I’m petite What I meant is that we don’t see much of a gorgeous womanly figure these days in music videos, etc. I’m saying as a 15-year-old girl, what most other 15-, 16-, and 17-year-olds see on TV. For example, Mike on The Jersey Shore called Angelina fat?? She is a perfectly normal-sized girl. She’s beautiful. I’m sure most people wouldn’t take much to mind about that, but that is the sort of world we live in. And fashion shows? Do you ever not see a size 0 practically dying walking across the runway? This is a great site btw.
—Holly, 15 from Dublin, Ireland
I really want to become involved in healthy experiences related to my body. I’ve had an eating disorder for 30 years and just recently got out of a month-long treatment center. I want to surround myself with healthy, positive thoughts to continue my journey toward a peaceful, healthy life
—Laurie Lezak, 43 from Los Angeles, CA US
Uhm, I can say I was different in middle school. I was always picked on for wearing things that were different from most people. By the way I looked also because of my body. It came to a point where I just really wasn’t happy with myself. Every time I looked in the mirror I hated what I saw. Because I wasn’t the right body shape. Or I didn’t look as pretty as the girls from my school. I was insecure. I am still to this day, but not as much. Because there is no perfect body or face in my eyes. There are just people. As each day passes I’m slowly learning more and more to love myself for who I am and not take what I look like and have for granted.
—Loan Pech, 16 from Lynn, MA US
I find it hard to be comfortable with my own body when so many people around me are uncomfortable with theirs. I’m naturally quite a slim build but if I put on weight it makes me panic and cut down what I eat. A lot of my friends are almost obsessive about their weight, one in particular is barely eating and it worries me. I think this project can help young girls especially feel more comfortable as they are and not look to super skinny celebrities as role models
—MK, 14 from Bristol, Great Britain
This project is amazing. I have been in recovery from an eating disorder for a year now, and it is amazing every day to feel good about my new body and appreciate my body image for what it is. I cannot express the importance of teaching the world about healthy body image, and this project is a great reinforcement of that.
—Brynn, 20 from Windsor, Canada
I don’t think I’m traditionally beautiful. I have big eyes and a prominent nose. But I like myself. I think I’m pretty, specifically because I don’t look like everyone else.
—Ash, 24 from Washington, DC US
I’m a 13-year-old girl and was bullied in primary school. Them telling me I’m ugly made me believe it and even now I still do. I feel like people are looking at me and calling me ugly even though my friends tell me how pretty I am. My friends worry about my self esteem but someday I hope I will be comfortable in myself.
—Fran, 13 from Swansea, Great Britain
I am a 16-year-old girl who has a few issues with the way I look. I feel as though I’m not pretty in any way. I do suffer with a mild form of acne. I get a few small spots on my face, but get a few big ones on my chest and back. I know that I have put on weight. Some of my clothes are beginning not to fit. I’m worried people are talking about me because of it. I hope that this website can help rebuild my self confidence.
—Rhea Jackson, 16 from Newport, Great Britain
I’ve always thought of myself as not good enough. My friends are cuter, skinnier, and have clear skin. I have always been put down by my friends for being fatter, having no boobs, and having a red skin pigment. When I look at a bigger girl, I don’t think of how she looks. The first thing I think about is how she presents herself. I vow to present myself with poise and confidence every time I walk into a room. Whether the people are pretty or ugly, fat or skinny, I am going to walk into that room knowing that I am beautiful and if they can’t see that, then they aren’t worth my time.
—Anna, 15 from Melbourne, FL US
Body image…very strong words to me, especially being 14. I’m very fun to be around. I love writing and fashion I have an amazing boyfriend of almost 10 months who thinks I’m perfect in every way, but no matter how perfect he tells me I am, I still feel completely bad about myself. I can always stand in front of the mirror and point out so many flaws on my body. I’m addicted to my weight and the scale is my enemy. I stay between 108-112 lbs. I constantly weigh myself and I write down everything I eat and how many calories and how much fat each thing has. I feel so bad about this, but I care what people think about me way too much.
This project has helped me see I’m not the only one who has some problems. It makes me feel like I actually fit in somewhere with people who actually understand me and my problems.
—Kristian, 14 from Williamson, WV US
Recently, I’ve been thinking about my body a lot and about how it appears to others. Partly because it’s summer, but mostly because a few weeks ago I was at a park with my boyfriend and we passed two older boys about early 20s. One of them stated ‘you should be wearing a training bra with breasts like yours.’ I’m not going to lie. That hurt. Like a punch to the gut. But, I put on a brave face and walked on, squeezing my boyfriends hand hard. I won’t forget what that boy said. The mind is a weird complex and that keeps nagging at me. Ever since then I’ve tried to concentrate on the positives of my body, like the small of my back and my bum. They are wonderfully toned and slim.
For every negative you must find two positives. That way we can move forward.
—Sarah, 15 from London, Great Britain
I cry about my body shape very week. I look at how beautiful my friends are and I feel like nothing. I feel sad when I see girls wearing things I wish I looked good in.
—Georgia, 15 from Ripponden, Great Britain
I’m trying to recover from an eating disorder, but it’s so hard to when it seems like every single woman I know is obsessed with losing weight or making sure they don’t gain an ounce. I want to know that a normal woman can eat a cupcake and not feel like they have to repent by working it off at the gym the next day. I want to know that it’s okay to skip working out or overeat once in a while. I have an eating disorder, but it’s everyday women who talk about these things like it’s completely acceptable.
—Nicole, 19 from Charlotte, NC US
I’ve always tried to accept who I am, but I’m afraid that others won’t accept me. I have realized over the years I am happiest when I am alone at home, because nobody will judge me. I think I would be fine in my body if nobody else cared, but people these days always look for flaws instead of the good things. Growing up, my mother has always been the one telling me, “You need to lose 10 pounds. Your acne is getting bad. You can’t go out wearing that. You shouldn’t laugh that loud in public. Your hair looks like a boy’s cut.” I’ve been brainwashed from the start to believe that the most beautiful girls have blemish-free skin, large breasts, small waists, thin legs, shiny/smooth hair, etc. The models you see on Victoria’s Secret posters and in the magazines are what I think most women strive to look like. That’s what I strive to look like, but I know that is not who I am. I’d like to be able to enjoy life because I have a long road ahead of me. I think I can begin this journey by accepting myself. I should try my hardest to be happy with who I am, and to accept myself even if nobody else will. Like my father always tells me, “You have to love yourself before you love anyone else.”
—Hannah, 13 from Greensboro, NC US
I always try to act as if I’m extremely comfortable with my body, but the truth is, I’m not. I don’t like being pale and short, and I feel the need to have a flat stomach and fit into a size 0. I know I’m not fat, but as a performer I feel the need to look a certain way. Why?
—Amy, 20 from Madison, MS US
I am recovering from anorexia which I have had for 24 years. After all the therapy and treatment I have been through, body image was the main issue that was never addressed. I can’t even form an image in my mind of what the real me is, or who I really am. My entire life has been in some form about being thin to be accepted either at home or at school. Then it shifted–it became about protection from abuse and anger at my body for being attracted and bringing pain to me. I realize now, unlike when I was a child, it wasn’t my body’s fault or mine. However, the consequences have taken a toll on how I feel in my body, how I perceive it and what my reality is.
To imagine the real me is a fantasy. I can only describe my longings. I desire to feel safe in my body, safe from abuse, mistreatment, and negative talk. The longing of my heart is to be free from my ED. I desire not to put so many demands on my body when I am exhausted, listen when it’s tired, and know that resting is ok and not a sign of laziness. Exercise for the simple pleasure of enjoying the activity and not to get some pain out or relieve my stress in an unhealthy exercise routine. To feel confident to go in public with something pretty on and not feel I am being visibly attacked.
Being given the title of being the “pretty and perfect” one has plagued me my entire life. The standards required to uphold this unwanted title are harsh, and the discipline to comply with such tough rules is unthinkable. The toll it takes on my life is unbearable. To imagine me outside the walls of anorexia and body image difficulties is, for me, an unthinkable, untouchable reality, but it’s nice to take a break for a moment to visualize what that might look like. It would be nice to know “how” that would look too.
—Susan, 40 from Keller, TX US
I’m a teacher’s assistant for a dance class of 7-10 year olds. There are a few girls in there who I can tell already feel badly about their bodies. As a teen who was very overweight in elementary school and who still suffers from body image issues, this kills me. I wish I could do something to make them feel beautiful and like they shouldn’t compare themselves to anybody else. I know the emotional pain they’re going through very clearly. I want to do something to help these little girls who shouldn’t have to worry about anything like this at all, much less at this age.
—Jessica, 16 from Cary, NC US
I generally thought of myself as pretty until my third child. Then came the zits, the fallen breasts, the extra tummy. I choose to work out regularly for health but sometimes it gets me down that my shape still does not change despite healthy choices. I am often most worried about my friends’ perceptions. I have amazing women friends but they often talk trash about their non- existent stomachs. I think if they feel that way about themselves how do they perceive me in secret? I realized recently I do the same thing. By our culture’s standards there is always going to be someone who is thinner and someone who is larger. Someone who is prettier and someone who is not as stunning. But why are we defining it that way? Why can’t we see the positives? The soul beneath, the clear eyes, gorgeous skin tone, smile wrinkles that tell a story, largess that speaks of strength and curves and a healthy love of self, strength or wisdom? I realized I can only encourage change by accepting myself and encouraging that in others. I love this site and am thankful there are others who care enough for our future souls to be vulnerable. Thank you for your bravery. I deeply respect the intent.
—Kissa, 26 from Calgary, Canada
I struggle with the need to be thinner, but I am proud of my body, even though I am often uncomfortable with my looks. I was diagnosed with a treatable condition about a year ago, and I am realizing now that my body was working so hard for a long time to keep me functioning, even when I thought that it wasn’t. Now I know it was fighting against impossible odds. This has changed the way I see my body. I appreciate what it has done for me, even more so now that I am healing.
—LR, 34 from Nashua, NH US
I turned 50 in February. I want to learn to love my body once and for all.
—Crystal, 50 from Saint Petersburg, FL US
The real me would not hurt anymore. Not physically, not emotionally. The real me would walk into a room without wondering if everyone present thought I looked fat. The real me would throw away her scale and eat to nourish, not to numb. The real me would celebrate her talents, her voice, her love of her husband and children, and do it without telling herself that she isn’t good enough because she’s overweight. The real me would not have knee pain, back pain or foot pain. The real me would wear a bathing suit without having to be perfect first. When I imagine the real me, my soul is shining through and the body that houses it is healthy and glowing. Not perfect. Because there is no such thing.
—Amy Allen, 36 from Kent, WA US
I do worry about my weight. I’m currently overweight and have 20 pounds to go. But most of all, oh I wish I was healthy! I wish I didn’t have a heart condition that made my cardio have such strict limits, no sudden jabs of chest pain that cannot be explained. No childhood arthritis, no fibromyalgia, no hypothyroidism or depression. I feel envious of the girls who have no physical illness to hold them back. I get mad when they complain about their weight when they don’t even realize how much pain and suffering I go through just to get my weight under control. The real me is at a healthy weight, happy with who she is, and content. I wish I was there. But I’m not yet. Maybe someday, when I can look at myself and truly love myself for who I am. I hope that day comes soon.
—Kry, 25 from Halifax, NS CA
If you asked me if I was fat? I would answer yes, without even thinking about it. I’ve worried about my body since I can remember. I remember passing out at school one day when I was 15 because I hadn’t eaten all day. I know in reality, I am NOT fat. I’m 5 ft 5 and have a BMI of ’19′-’20′ which is a perfectly healthy weight. I can wear size 8 clothes and people tell me I look good. Sometimes I feel it, but weight is such an issue. I look in the mirror and should be happy, I should embrace my figure, which I know deep down a lot of girls are envious of, yet I’m shallow and vain and I can’t see past the imperfections. There’s always something wrong, something that needs work. I can honestly say out of me and my 10 best girl friends, each one of us is on a diet 90% of the time. Food and weight are addressed everyday and until the world stops pumping into us that we must be Thin, Big Boobed and Flawlessly Pretty to be beautiful in other people’s eyes, then I don’t think anyone can say they are 100% comfortable in their own skin.
—Louise, 20 from Fareham, F2 Great Britain
I am extremely overweight, tired all the time and depressed because of the way I look. I don’t do certain things because of my weight. It really holds me back. I’ve gained 80 pounds in 2 years (had a baby 2 years ago) and it’s just miserable.
—Amanda, 28 from New Orleans, LA US
I aim to be an honest, soft and open person who loves the warm sun on a cold winter day. I strive to smile every morning when I wake up, pray to God and focus on who I am…as that’s what will get me through my life I first saw the Body Image Project on Facebook and I am really pleased with the work it has been doing. Women and men need help to be able to see past the modern world’s obsession with the body beautiful!
—Melissa, 32 from Warrane, 06 Australia
I imagine the real me and it’s someone who is comfortable being in my own body, my temple, and in my own skin. The real me would love myself for whatever lumps or curves I may have but I don’t and I can’t stand it but I have to deal with it, so I learned to love it. So the real me wants to love my body and whatever curves come with it.
—Shawny, 24 from New Orleans, LA US
The real me is an outgoing, happy, open-to-new-ideas, filled-with-joy type of person. I’m always looking for laughter or making someone laugh. The real me wants to get out in the world and face it head on, whatever the obstacle may be. The real me wants to get out and enjoy the world and all the good and bad things that come with it.
—Shawntelle Carter, 24 from New Orleans, LA US
Image is being comfortable in your own skin and not trying to be someone else. You must love yourself first. I love myself. I’m not perfect. I struggled with my weight all my life. Kids at school were so cruel. As I grew older I started learning more about how to love me for who I am, not for what guys want.
—atlantiss, 36 from New Orleans, LA US
Image seems to be everything to women. Most women don’t realize how beautiful they are because they don’t look like the girls in magazines. I can’t lie and say I do.
—Kris, 20 from Ponchatoula, LA US
I want the real RJ to be healthy, happy and fit. I want the real RJ to be an example and inspiration for others to do the same. Life will never be perfectly easy, but I can do my part to make my world — and body — a better place to be and know.
—Rebekah Johnson, 33 from Baton Rouge, LA US
I have always been told “you are pretty” or “you are cute.” At one time I felt like that. Now I can’t seem to feel happy about me. I’m sad because I try hard to please others (family) and help every time my name is mentioned, but can’t seem to get me on track. I look in the mirror and can’t stand who I see. I hate to take my clothes off because I can’t stand who I see. I don’t want to put clothes on because I can’t stand who I see. It hurts when your kids don’t want you at a school event because THEY CAN’T STAND WHO THEY SEE. It hurts so bad because you’re doing the best you can but people look at you with this look of “I can’t stand who I see.”
—sandy, 38 from New Orleans, LA US
I have struggled all my life with weight. I looked and felt good at sizes 12-14 (164-174 lbs). I am now in size 24 (300 lbs). I find myself frustrated since I cannot seem to gain control. I pray my postings will become uplifting with time.
—Veronica, 53 from Slidell, LA US
The real me is about a size 10 or 12. Not perfect, just better. I am healthy and feel good and my kids are proud of me!
—MerleToots, 46 from Washington, DC US
For a long time I have been very concerned about the image of beauty that is presented in media. I wish every single person in the world could feel beautiful, no matter what size or shape or color they are. Unfortunately, TV and magazines tell us, especially women, that you have to look a certain way to look good. I have had my own struggles in learning to love my body, but I am slowly getting there. I wish I could spread some love all around the world and tell every self-conscious person that they truly are gorgeous and wonderful, each in their own different way.
—Keita, 20 from Lohja, Sweden
Society has distorted the image of beauty. Our bodies are amazing and can’t ever be completely recreated in any form, and yet, even though I know that my body is an amazing organism, I feel that my body is my worst enemy and I have treated it as such for most of my life. Going back and forth between an eating disorder and putting scars on my body with razor blades, I wonder if I will ever be able to view my body in the way that it deserves to be viewed, and that is as a gift from God and an amazing creation.
—Jane Doe, 26 from Orem, UT US
These videos give me goose bumps. These are all the same issues I have dealt with at various times in my life. Thank you for giving real women a voice on body image.
—zaftig, 26 from Rochester, NY US
I am working on loving myself from the inside and outside. Making myself happy.
—Ryan Bradford, 26 from Chicago, IL US
Body image is a social construction. Over the years it has become quite negative. Girls are being told loudly or quietly to look a certain way. As women we need to love and treasure our bodies no matter what size or shape we are. Strip away all the vanity and look inside. At the end of day that’s what really matters. There may be some things I don’t like about my body but it’s too late to get a new one so I’m just going to heart me just the way I am and get on with it.
—Jackie, 29 from London, Great Britain
I like your messages on body acceptance. Like so many survivors of childhood trauma, I had no body. Now I really live in my body and count on it to connect me with my deeper level of awareness.
—Mary K. Armstrong, 71 from Toronto, Canada
I have always been somewhat overweight. I just want to look how I feel: skinny and toned. I don’t want to just be known as the funny girl.
—Whitney, 18 from Gaston, SC US
I am beautiful and so are you!
—at peace from Santa Cruz, CA US
I’m a tall, skinny woman trapped in a short dumpy body. I’d give anything to be that tall, skinny woman in reality.
—Alice, 19 from London, Great Britain
I’ve struggled with eating disorders for ten years. I want to get healthy and finally feel happy and proud about my body.
—Megan, 21 from East Lansing, MI US
Two kilograms less can really make me a happier person? Unfortunately …I believe so.
—Carla, 30 from Lima, Peru
I eat healthily, I look healthy, and I feel healthy, gladly.
—Troy, 32 from Baton Rouge, LA US
I don’t like my body at all. It makes me embarrassed and I try to wear clothes that hide it. I am overweight and have basically given up on dieting. Nothing seems to work. I work many hours a week and am tired most of the time. I feel as if I am caught in a terrible hamster cage. To put it simply, I have never ever liked my body, even when I was skinnier. I look back at pictures where I thought I was fat and ugly, but the pictures don’t look that way.
I would like to feel better about the way I look.
—Renee Glass, 41 from Baton Rouge, LA US
I have always thought I was heavy, no matter what size I really am. My weight has a 20 lb span. I go up and down, never stay the same weight. I have never felt proud of my body.
—Christine Nichols, 60 from Baton Rouge, LA US
I’ve struggled since school with feeling ugly. I was bullied for many years in school and I have hyper-critical parents who notice every lb I put on or lose, if I hit the gym or do a lot of my favourite sport (mountain biking) they will comment that I am getting too muscly and unfeminine. I feel I can’t win. I don’t feel I have the right to feel sexy unless my body is perfect, which obviously means a good deal slimmer than I am now. It’s a shame we don’t teach young girls to be accepting of themselves and that all women are beautiful.
—Liz Smith, 27 from London, H9 GB
I have been struggling with anorexia/bulimia for 14 years, and self injury for 4 years. I have stopped the self injury, and I was doing so well with the bulimia and everything for almost 3 months. I can feel myself slipping back and I feel like I can’t stop. I just want to be happy and healthy and love myself and I feel like I never will. sigh
—Kady, 24 from Zion, IL US
I am so in love with my body. I’ve come to embrace my so called “flaws” and accept them. It bothers me that other people aren’t over my flaws, though. I’m always getting jokes about my smaller chest, and I don’t see why my body concerns other people. It also saddens me to see my friends’ addiction to the gym. They’re all beautiful, healthy girls, but they are obsessed with getting skinnier by any means possible. Change your body to be a healthier you, not a skinnier you.
—Marissa, 17 from Rochester, NH US
Strong, healthy, happy.
—Nicky, 45 from Great Britain
In high school I struggled with my weight a great deal… and I still do. By Thanksgiving of my senior year I was 220 lbs and I was sick of it. I began forcing myself to throw up (though I tried to keep it to a minimum because I knew it was bad for my system and my teeth). After a while I just tried to not eat because I knew making myself sick was hurting my throat and teeth and soon I might not be able to control when I chose to get sick. I would be really happy if all I ate that day was 1/2 a sandwich. So I began carrying a bottle of water with me everywhere I went and if I felt hungry I would just drink until I was full. It wasn’t healthy. Sometimes I would be sitting in class and feel so weak I contemplated passing out just so I could go lay down somewhere. I’m finishing up my undergrad degree now and I don’t struggle with bulimia or anorexia but self image is still a huge struggle for me. I’m about to marry a man who loves me and my body and he thinks I’m beyond beautiful. He helps me a lot but I think it’s important to understand that he can’t complete me or fix the way I see myself. That’s a journey I’ll have to figure out for myself.
—Rachel, 22 from Ruston, LA US
I am an anorexia survivor (13 years and counting)! I do still struggle with body image. Some days I love myself, and some days I don’t. But I don’t punish myself anymore with severe food restriction and obsessive thoughts about being fat. And I do my best to care for myself as I would anyone else. I was lucky… I had wonderful people who helped me learn that I am worthy of life and deserve to thrive (Thank you, Tiffany!). I am proof that eating disorders can be overcome! I will continue to work toward self love!
—Kaycie, 32 from Vancouver, BC Canada
For me, my body was always a prison, inescapable and UGLY. It started when I was in the 5th grade, and from there progressively got worse. It got really bad, I started becoming anorexic, then I started purging, taking laxatives–anything to get off that “extra weight” I SWORE I had. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I started learning healthier ways to lose weight and so I started doing it the right way. I’m healthy and happy and it was a struggle, sometimes it still is, BUT no one is perfect. This is the body god gave me and all I can do is take care of it! It’s the only one I have. And it is HOT. You have to love yourself to truly be happy.
—L-Rod, 25 from New Orleans, LA US
I used to feel a lot of shame, not just about my body but also about the food issues I had in my past. No more! My body is a beautiful and forgiving machine. Taking control of my health and well-being helped me forgive myself for the pain that I put myself and others through with my disordered eating. Even though the hurt my illness caused was not intentional, I felt intensely guilty about that for quite a few years.
After so many flawed searches for happiness by manipulating and punishing my body, I can truly say that NOW I have found peace. It is sweeter than I ever could’ve imagined.
—Katie, 26 from Chicago, IL US
I struggled with an eating disorder for years. Oddly enough, once I started working in the film industry with actresses who I realized weren’t as perfect as magazines show and dating my amazing boyfriend who makes me feel like every curve on my body is beautiful, the disorder slowly faded away. It still peaks up every once in a while. Mostly when I’m overwhelmed. But for the most part, I really do feel comfortable in my body and I truly love who I am.
—Mo, 24 from New Orleans, LA US
It took me five years and eight treatment programs to start eating breakfast in the morning again. It took me five years and eight treatment programs to stop purging after every meal. It took me five years and eight treatment programs to stop engraving the word “FAT” on my stomach and thighs. It took me five years and eight treatment programs to get my body to the healthy weight it wants to be at. It took me five years and eight treatment programs to learn what healthy exercise is. It took me five years and eight treatment programs to learn how to take care of myself. It took me my whole life to get to the point where I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I am beautiful. It took me my whole life to be grateful for my body.
—Reilly Billian, 17 from Sharon, MA US
I think that a major flaw within “body acceptance” campaigns is that we like to conveniently “forget” that thin/skinny bodies ARE normal and womanly as well. To counter the media’s hyping of supermodel stick figure bodies, we turn around and praise larger/overweight shapes only, and that isn’t any better. We should celebrate ALL women’s unique beauty, whether they weigh 90 pounds or 900 pounds.
—Gab from New York, NY US
Just loving the video on the front page of your site. So fresh, real and beautiful.
—Julie, 37 from Aspendale, 07 Australia
I’ve finally given up dieting. For good. For years I was miserable, struggling to become thinner, some pie-in-the-sky jean size that I could never attain. After much soul searching, and hitting bottom, I’ve decided to LOVE MYSELF RIGHT NOW. TODAY. I’m not perfect, and would love to have thinner thighs. But I am ME. And I’m all I’ve got. That I’m happy at a weight I would once have dreaded is an accomplishment of a lifetime.
—Amanda, 29 from New York, NY US
Throughout my whole childhood, I struggled with being overweight. I was teased on numerous occasions for it, and that stuck with me for such a long time. I am 21 years old now, and I am finally beginning to love myself for me. Thank you for getting the word out now. Many people need this inspiration to learn to love and appreciate their bodies as they are. We are all beautiful and unique in our own ways.
—Olivia, 21 from Chicago, IL US
I’m 27, 5 foot 4 and 120 pounds. Most plastic surgery is for people with low self esteem. I don’t believe in cutting my body or stuffing it with botox and implants. That’s where I draw the line! One exception: I do laser hair removal and get laser facials. It’s non invasive and makes me feel great. It makes ME feel like I’M shining through. Not like I’m transforming into something more Barbie-like!
—Laser Gal NYC, 30 from New York, NY US
I’m 5’6, 182 lbs, and wear a size 14. I’ve always been self-conscious about my weight, but I’ve never WANTED to be skinny. My dream size is a size 10, any thinner and I think I’d look weird. I’ve made wonderful changes in my life the past 2 months, working out and eating better (not GREAT, but much better), but I have yet to see any changes. I gained 20 lbs (jumped from a size 12 to a 14) this year and that’s what really jump-started my change. It’s hard to stay motivated to work out when I’m not seeing changes. I see myself as beautiful, and I have a boyfriend who loves me and thinks I’m beautiful, but I still can’t help but feel self-conscious. There’s always that lingering feeling of not quite being good enough by MY standards. I don’t want to be skinny, just thinner. I hate the feeling of guilt any time I don’t eat the healthiest I could or don’t work out (even on my days off from working out). I’m making progress in loving myself. Finally loving myself for who I am has helped me feel better. I can easily say that I feel better as a person as a size 14 than I did at a size 12. Now if only I could be this same great person and a beautiful size 10! I love being a curvy girl, but I’m just a little too curvy at this point. POWER TO THE CURVES!
—Hannah, 18 from Winter Park, FL US
I am a single mom with a few extra lbs but I am very beautiful. My dream is to become a fashion model or magazine model but the image of being tall and too thin is overrated. Big and tall women can be just as beautiful.
—Shannon from Branson, MO US
I am 28 and for the first time in my life I cannot eat whatever I want. I’ve put on 20 pounds in the last 6 months without doing anything differently. I hate the extra pounds that have found their way to my midsection and I have no energy. It took a long time for me to appreciate being a skinny guy, but now I have a new challenge to get over as I get older. I long to be a skinny guy again, not because Hollywood tells me to be, but because that is who I am. I am not buff muscle guy or old tall tan guy. I am thin guy, but now I am becoming fat guy. What a pain. I know people will always love me for me, but I hate that I have so much less energy.
—phx man, 28 from Phoenix, AZ US
The best part about hitting 50 is that you finally learn to be comfortable in your own skin.
—Lynn, 52 from Saint Petersburg, FL US
I have the body I deserve due to the lack of exercise and bad diet I have. If I felt the external was important enough I’d probably go to the gym, but I find focusing on the external very self-obsessed, shallow and a sad indictment of the me, me, me media drivel we are spoon-fed these days. Better to focus on improving your mind!
—Mike Zealey, 35 from London, Great Britain
I don’t like my body. I only notice how much I dislike it when I’m alone. When I’m with other people it never bothers me, but get me alone in front of a mirror and I’ll quickly start scrutinizing.
—Charlotte, 19 from Oakleigh, Australia
I AM a size 2 but I still feel like I’m not pretty enough, that I have too many wrinkles, too many “age spots”, too much grey hair, too many moles, etc, etc, etc. Like other people said already: Strive to be HEALTHY, ladies…. a healthy mind, body, and spirit supersede all of this other “stuff”. I have been in an abusive marriage and been told how useless, stupid, selfish, etc, etc, I am. Bad things can happen at size 2, too. Strive to be strong- beauty comes most with you being YOU.
—me from Rio Rancho, NM US
It’s about health and self-love, not roundness. Different people are naturally different sizes and shapes – that’s how it’s supposed to be. Accept it, and just live your life.
—Health Man from Arlington, MA US
A size 2 or 4 may not be the norm but they aren’t even real sizes. As women have become larger, sizes have been adjusted down to keep most women in clothing size 14 and under so they don’t have to shop in plus size stores. I have been lucky that throughout my life I have not had a problem with weight; yet, my clothing size changed from a size 7 to a size 5 almost overnight when I was 20. I didn’t change at all, the clothing size did. That has happened at least 3 times since I moved out of junior sizes to ladies sizes. I started in a size 6, and even though I still weigh what I weighed when I was 30, I now wear a size 0. Does this make me happy? No way. What kind of size is 0? Does it mean I am nothing? It sure seems that way since very few clothing manufacturers choose to make clothing in that size. So, please don’t criticize people who wear small sizes. We are not all anorexic or bulimic. Some of us are just at the mercy of the decisions of the fashion industry.
—Fredda from Vienna, VA US
I love this. I have been through so many abusive relationships with regard to my weight and what is ‘perceived’ as attractive. When I was a size 12-14 I was feeling so good and healthy but those around me did not let me feel this way. Instead I was ‘broken’ and needed to be fixed! We need to change this view in society that a size 0 is the only way to look sexy and be healthy.
—Cheri Spain, 39 from Oakland, CA US
I wish more “normal” sized women were portrayed EVERYWHERE… a size 2 or 4 is not the norm…
—Amy Sue, 54 from Colorado Springs, CO US
A very dear male friend (who will always hold a special place in my heart) told me that he thought of my size as an extension of my sensuality – I enjoy all forms of touch, smell, sight, and taste!
—Linda Davis, 51 from Alton, IL US
The biggest battle in my young life has been low self-esteem and a poor body image. It was an attitude adopted from the women in my family and it’s been a terrible struggle from an early age. I’m happy to say, though, that I’m now on the other side of that struggle and I am moving forward in my life without the preoccupation of appearance. I’m 5’7″. I weigh 153 lbs. And I am beautiful. And I am a good person. And it is not vain or ego-centric for a woman to give herself that credit! These days, if I lose some of my weight in the summer and gain some in the winter, it’s all fine by me. If I have a day where I’ve indulged, I am no longer plagued with self-loathing and guilt as I would have been at one time. It’s an amazing feeling when you realize how much energy you once put towards hating yourself, and now that wasted energy is no longer. Moreover, it is incredible to sit back and observe how even thin women will continue to put themselves down — the warped conditioning in our society is something truly sick and toxic.
Your body type has no bearing on who you are as a person. All that matters is that you are happy, healthy, and comfortable with yourself! That is when you can begin to live to your fullest potential.
—Sarah, 26 from Bloomington, IN US
Though in all honesty I wish I were 40 pounds lighter, I am quite comfortable with who I am. I am me! I am not grossly overweight, but I certainly could be thinner. The people that know me, KNOW ME! I joke about my weight but I am comfortable being me. YOU SHOULD TOO! H. Jackson Brown wrote in his book Life’s Little Instruction Book, “Live life like an exclamation, not an explanation.” I have made that my mantra!
—Luvtheskinimin, 40 from Saint Louis, MO US
As a young woman I modeled, and thought only of being thin and sexy. As I approach 40 I have a completely different image of what sexy is, and it sure as hell isn’t THIN! I weight the same as I did in high school and would like to gain some weight to create more curves, but due to health problems it is very difficult. Do not envy the size 2 girl because she isn’t the ideal… there is no one single ideal.
—justme, 39 from Columbus, OH US
I am a petite, fiery, loyal, hard-working, fun-loving, young-acting woman. Every time I see myself in the mirror, though, I see a slightly overweight older woman that I really don’t care to know. I have always fought my weight and wonder when I will just say who cares?
—Patty, 58 from Overland Park, KS US
The words adorable, beautiful, handsome, and stunning are part of our self image from the day we are born through the teens and until we decide that those words are not true anymore for whatever reason. Is it because we don’t look the way we used to as a doting parent’s little baby, as that young person filled with energy heading out into the world, or in comparison to current beauty standard in the media? The human condition is certainly challenging and fear is an oppressive emotion. When we stop feeling loved we fear we will be alone–this is when we separate body, mind and spirit. Getting back to whole is the constant struggle for me. My body is the house/temple of the other parts of me–we cannot thrive, one without the other. I am always critical of myself for one thing or another but it is only when I start to show it on the outside that others know. My body is healthy and maybe ‘beautiful’ to some, but I am beautiful only when I love myself.
—Michelle, 52 from Silver Spring, MD US
I am so much more than how I look, or even how I feel about how I look! I am fun, creative, passionate, talented, sociable, warm, funny, courageous, exciting, interesting, loving…and none of that has anything to do with the size of me!
—So much more…, 24 from Auckland, New Zealand
I’m always surprised when I see myself in the mirror because the image in my head remains thinner than the body I live in. I gained 50 lbs in college I haven’t taken them off, but I still feel like the thinner person I was then–though I was never skinny. Solid and muscular, yes, but not fashionable. I’ve been lucky that I don’t see my identity as my body, but I’m sick of my skinny friends talking about how fat they are in front of me. It’s an unconscious form of social shaming. Just stop it. Love yourselves and you’ll love each other. It’s all we’ve got.
—Lee Kottner, 49 from Brooklyn, NY US
The person I see in the mirror is not just different from the person my friends and loved ones see when they look at me; she’s somebody else entirely. I wish this weren’t true, and I’ve been fighting it for years, but I cannot beat it.
—Katie, 22 from Warrington, Great Britain>
I’m a person who has always exercised and cared for my body. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis several years ago, and have been on several medication including steroids, which has caused me to gain weight that I seem unable to get rid of. Please help me through this time in my life to help me like who I am now.
—Lillian, 52 from New Orleans, LA US
Body image is how I interpret what is in the mirror. It’s not what is in my reflection but in the lens I have learned to use to see what is in the mirror. I want a much better lens.
—Mary, 24 from San Francisco, CA USIt’s hard for me not to be hypocritical. As vocal as I am about my feminist values and about the harm of the media’s beauty standards, I constantly monitor what I eat and I am never happy with my appearance. I want to be able to look in the mirror and see beyond my flaws. I think it takes a lot of strength to be able to accept one’s self. This project is a great place from which to draw such strength and inspiration. Here’s to the day I feel confident and happy with what I got from my momma.
—Noelle, 21 from London, Great Britain
I am not sure what it is. Is it just media? Friends and family? Who is it that tells everyone they should feel displeased with their bodies? It seems counter intuitive to me to feel as though I am not as good as I should be. That my life would have been easier if I was more attractive, and that I should always worry that people are judging me for my looks, not my personality or ability. I want to feel good in my skin, but I don’t know how to make that happen. I really appreciate this site. It seems to be a step in the right direction.
—Justina, 25 from Victoria, Canada
I have never been a slender person. About 10 years ago I was diagnosed with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. So my body image is not only tied into how I look, but what can I do right now, because that can change by the moment. I am me. This is how the universe made me: cellulite, spider veins, and knobby joints. But it also gave me long legs, a winning smile, big brown eyes, and the intelligence to see beyond social images.
—Mary Spila, 45 from Harrisburg, PA US
I am always on the lookout to improve my health through a healthy diet and exercise. But, it has never changed who I am or how I act. I am AWESOME! Treat your body with the respect it deserves.
—Jessie Lynn, 26
I’m learning to love myself for all my strengths and areas needing help. I know myself more and acceptance is coming along slowly as I follow my own thinking more and more.
—Anonymous, 40 from Venice, FL US
I am a girl who has always been slim. I have never had to worry about what I eat. I’ve been told I have the body of a model. And yet, I find myself plagued by the same insecurities that someone looking to lose weight might experience. I’ve always been told, “You need to eat something!” or, “Get some meat on those bones!” When I was younger kids called me anorexic. Talk about a double standard huh? I’m lucky enough to fit this “ideal,” and yet all I get is ridiculed. This negativity comes from the same place as all of the others. Let’s find a balance and respect one another without making assumptions about a person based on their weight.
—Nicole, 21 from Greenlawn, NY US
I love this project. Thank you for doing it!
I have always been overweight, but for the most part it hasn’t held me back. I remember being proud of being 125 lbs in Grade 3 b/c in my mind, a higher weight meant that I was growing up. There was no shame in being overweight. I’m not ashamed of my body now, though I am well aware of the societal pressures and the media’s reinforcements. I am working to change my form; I want my body to be in shape again so I can do more with it and be healthy. I know that my worth is much more than a body or a number and I think my outlook on life has always reflected that, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have times when my self confidence dips a bit or I wish for something a little different.
—Heather, 25 from Halifax, Canada
The problem with body image is that it doesn’t just affect those who are overweight. Body image is in your head. It doesn’t matter if you lose 10 lbs or 100 lbs, if you’re still carrying the baggage of a bad body image, you’ll never be happy. And it’s not easy being shown an image of “perfection” every day that is completely unattainable. Women are the hardest on each other. Let’s start by supporting each other. If you haven’t already, tell someone you know that they are beautiful just the way they are!
—Angela, 28 from Bakersfield, CA US
There are things about my body I would like to improve but that has nothing to do with who I am as a person. My energy is positive because I love myself and everyone else.
—Stephanie Danforth, 31 from Detroit, MI US
Thank you for giving this project to me. I hate being the person I have become. I WANT to change this, but never know how. I used to LOVE myself…that has changed. I need help to succeed at this.
—Jessica, 32 from Antigo, WI US
I am watching these videos, tears streaming down my face. I feel like my body is a wreck. I have had two kids. I am almost 40. I nursed each child for over two years. I have lost almost 100 pounds. NOTHING on my body is where it belongs. Skins droops. Underarms flap. Boobs sag. IT ALL JIGGLES. So, even though I have lost weight and nursed babies and given birth…I am still not happy. How do you get happy with what you have? How do you come to peace with it?
—Heidi, 39 from Seattle, WA US
I am recovering from Bulimia/Anorexia and it is tough. I am constantly surrounded by family members who say they need to lose weight, look smaller, get rid of this or that, not eat certain things, and only buy low fat/low cal items at the grocery store. It is an everyday battle to accept my body for who I am and who God made me to be. That horrible voice is still in my head a lot, telling me how I need to be thinner, listen to people around you, don’t eat this or that. I mean, it sucks, and I wish I lived in a world where everyone could feel comfortable with their bodies. I wish my family were supportive and even though they don’t mean to be, not overly concerned about looks and appearance.
—Marybeth, 16 from Rocky Mount, NC US
I am just recovering from bulimia, right at the end of the journey, and discovering the true, true freedom of respecting my body as something so much bigger, more complex and graceful and more important than crap about dress sizes and cellulite. I am an intelligent, loving, funny woman with so much to give. How the hell did I get brainwashed into thinking this was the priority in my life?
—Lottie Bailey, 27 from Chiswick, Great Britain
I’m a bigger girl but I think I am beautiful. Unfortunately sometimes I still get bad comments about my weight and it’s frustrating! Let’s change and see ourselves and others for the individually beautiful people we are, regardless of our size or shape! Let’s look in the mirror and really see!
—petajohnson, 28 from Australia
The real me is the one that I see in my head. The body image, the personality, the beauty. I am her, she is me. I’ve always wanted to be her, and now I am. I realized that the only one I had to make happy was myself.
—Lacey, 26 from Houston, TX US
I have been bulimic for 12 years. I want to break the addiction and I will.
—Sarah, 25 from Brooklyn, NY US
The real me is free of this monkey on my back in the form of poor self esteem. The real me isn’t in constant chronic pain due to a faulty nervous system. The real me believes deep down inside that I am sexy to someone.
—Kristen Loven, 35 from San Diego, CA US
This is a wonderful and very needed idea. True beauty is more about the soul, the personality and the sense of self than it ever will be about how you look.
—Kate S., 45 from Minneapolis, MN US
Congratulations on this wonderful project. I wish you all the best with your mission and cannot wait to see how things unfold. We so desperately need more positive, encouraging and empowering body image movements like this one. Bravo!
—Julie Parker from Melbourne, Australia
There are few who can hold up a mirror and not become evil. A mirror does not expose evil, rather it creates it. Mirrors ought to be merely glanced at, not stared at.
—Tung Bach Ly, 28 from New Orleans, LA US
As I grow older, I grow more comfortable in my own skin. I will never look like a supermodel…and that’s OK. I’ve finally learned that my beauty comes from the inside…from confidence and wisdom.
—Dejoni, 37 from Elizabethtown, KY US
When I look skinny people treat me better.
—Carla, 30 from Lima, Peru
Who are you trying to please? Ask yourself. Ask them about the beautiful you.
—Tung Bach Ly, 28 from New Orleans, LA US
In the last few years regular exercise has played a positive role in how I feel about myself & my body. I realize that I took it for granted for a long time.
—gregchristman, 36 from New York, NY US
At age 45 I’ve finally come to understand that “acceptance” is not only about flaws but also about talents; it is embracing & owning (taking responsibility for the care and feeding of) your whole self which includes your strengths and your gifts.
—Ellee, 45 from New York, NY US
This is such a great idea. I’m a huge supporter of positive mind and body image.
—Michael Karnjanaprakorn, 27 from Jersey City, NJ US
Wow, I don’t know how else to say this, other than to simply say thank you for doing this.
—Sandra, 29 from Pikesville, MD US