Savannah | Female, Afro-Latina, 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?

To me, body positivity means treating your body with kindness. It means that you nourish your body and mind with what it needs, almost like a plant: it needs nutrients, water, sunlight, supportive people. It means that whatever point you are in life, you don’t take it for granted. Over time, my view of my body has drastically changed. I used to be so insecure about my masculine features, as I would be misgendered very often. At the same time, I would view femininity as something weak. I was so confused, dressing masc but being insecure about being masc. It wasn’t until I shaved my head for the first time that I felt truly me. I didn’t fit into any box, and I didn’t have to. I have a partner that loves me for my fluidity and friends who support me no matter what I look like. Once I had my son, even with the effects it had on my body, I have so much gratitude for how my body created and gave me my baby boy.

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

The more I’ve learned to accept myself, the more I’ve seen myself accept others. As cliché as it is, it really is true, that you need to learn to love yourself in order to love others. I used to be so judgmental and bitter. I projected all my hatred and insecurities of myself outward. I had internalized racism, colorism, misogyny: all of it. It was like I lived in a different reality where everyone was vile; I hated everyone. Once I started my journey towards healing my traumas and forgiving myself, and found true acceptance for myself, I could see past those initial judgements and assumptions. It was hard at first, breaking out of that habit, but I gave myself grace, and years later I am able to give others that same grace.

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?

I think it’s important to really understand who you’re trying to pass on this message to. People who are judgmental about what people’s bodies look like, or who have only one body type in their mind that they were taught to accept, have gotten to that point for a reason. It can be hard to talk to someone like that, who can say very hurtful things about someone based on their body, but approaching these people with an understanding that there is something that made them this way can help people who want to spread the message of body positivity afford them some grace. They may be the person who really needs to hear the message the most, ironically. Media itself carries no effect, in my opinion. It isn’t inherently good or bad when it comes to this subject. What really matters is the culture that uses it. Honestly, it’s okay if some people want to use editing or poses or lighting to look a certain way. What’s important is transparency for those that may not understand the difference between those pictures and videos versus reality. It’s taken me a very long time to reach a point where I don’t hate myself every time I see a picture of someone with those alterations. Even now, I sometimes catch myself slipping into that thought pattern. What helps me is reminding myself to list out what’s important in life: to scale back to what really matters. Looks never make the list.

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

Skin is skin. Breasts are for feeding babies, and butts are for back support.