Madeline W. | Female, White, She/Her

What does “body positivity” mean to you? How has your body image changed over time? How does your body image play a role in your identity or even in your daily life?

My perception of my body image has been a rollercoaster and has taken me into dark places but also beautiful, enlightened places. This journey of accepting myself has helped me understand that my mind and my body are one connected entity and that I can explore my body and learn from it. Body positivity means accepting both your body, and other bodies that are different from yours, without any judgment.

How has body image affected your mental and emotional health? What’s something that helps you feel comfortable in your own skin?

Body image has played a big role in my teenage and young adult development, mentally and emotionally. I think the worst thing anyone can do on their journey toward self-love is compare your own self to others. Everyone is different, so comparing will never get anyone anywhere. Yoga helps me feel comfortable in my own skin because it allows me to explore myself without any judgment and share these thoughts of love and curiosity with others while they are going through the same process.

How can we talk about our body image with our loved ones in a way that is supportive and helpful? How has the media influenced your body image?

The media is difficult because it exacerbates this issue of body comparisons and creates unrealistic expectations of what bodies should and should not be by reinforcing patriarchal schema. Monitoring who you follow or the things you say to yourself as you look at people in the media can help limit the impact of the media on personal perceptions of body image. Being aware of yourself and the information you expose yourself to from the media is the best way to separate yourself from the media’s pressure and expectations. We can all be positive influences by not posting images of our bodies online. The unending content that shows off unrealistic bodies is only reinforced when we post pictures of our bodies posing to uphold a particular standard or trend. If we are posting our bodies, being real about what you look like will not only derail the unrealistic expectations but also help you love yourself more!

Is there a specific message that you’d like to convey by participating in this project?

I want to show how learning about your body, exploring your body, and physically, spiritually or emotionally connecting with your body can help everyone foster better relationships with their bodies and encourage attitudes of body positivity.