Jessica | Female, White (Jewish) and Japanese, 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?

Body positivity is not necessarily something that just happens, but a way of thinking that takes work, time and a lot of sensitivity. My experience with my own body image has had many ups and downs, particularly being a dancer, and sometimes it can be difficult to feel positive in my skin all the time. However, also being a dancer, finding body positivity can be seeing the things that my body gives me that I love. My body keeps me healthy and strong, it supports me, it allows me to create and it brings me so much joy. At the end of the day, it has allowed me to develop and grow and follow one of my greatest passions in life, and for that I feel a deep sense of love for my body in the ways that it opens up my world.

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 been something that has affected my mental and emotional health, as it is tied so strongly to my career, especially in the sense that I am looking in mirrors all day while taking classes. Something that helps me feel comfortable in my own skin is definitely dancing, and feeling the exhilaration of what my body can do. However, truly my friends make me feel comfortable in my own skin, as I know that how they feel about me and how I feel about them is beyond how I look but is about who I am, which really reminds me what is most important to me.

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

As a dance major, I owe my time at UCLA to helping me rediscover my passion and appreciation of my body. In classes, I have seen the way it has allowed me to grow and learn more about myself as well as express myself and the world around me, and share stories I would never be able to except through the movement of my body. This even led me to create my debut gallery exhibit, “S I G H T / S E E,” to explore the idea of the perception of the moving body through self and through audience, which was a huge step for myself as a human and as an artist. I owe my education at UCLA for showing me that my body is more than my job or a system for carrying me through life, and from my time here I have discovered a real appreciation and deepened ability to exist in the world with my body, prompting me to continue dancing and develop a greater relationship with my body as a professional dancer post-graduation. This project means a lot to me, as it represents many of my hopes, fears, joys and beauties that my undergraduate career at UCLA gave me through showing me the power of my own body.