I am feeling livid this morning.
I attended a seminar at the University yesterday about accessing the power of media for advocacy and lobbying for community services.
I was particularly drawn to hear a human rights activist speak about her experiences in how to leverage the power of media.
Her story was powerful.
She was held hostage in Laos for almost a year.
Trapped in prison, she was surrounded by political prisoners, whose cause touched her deeply.
Some had been in there for over 15 years with no-one knowing.
When she finally got out, she smuggled letters out for them to alert their family and worked to help them be released.
This changed her life’s direction to become an advocate for human rights; speaking at the UN and travelling the Middle East.
Now she is studying her PhD and continues to be a voice for human rights in Australia and internationally.
In short, an incredibly passionate, courageous woman with a giant heart for humanity.
You know what she mentioned THE MOST in her 15 minute speech?
Her body and weight.
She lost a lot of weight while being held hostage.
She commented how sexy she thought she looked.
How much she liked her slender body.
How the photos after she were released looked so good.
How much she liked her reflection after that time.
How she clearly looks different now given she has put on weight.
On and on; the weight comments poured out as jokes, met by understanding laughter from the other women in the room.
Because let’s face it – how many of us will admit to revelling when some external factor caused us to lose weight, like contracting a stomach bug.
And it made me so MAD.
Mad that here is this amazing woman, doing so much great work, who endured something many couldn’t even imagine, and she diminishes herself by reflecting on her weight.
We are so much more than our bodies.
I often reflect how much more respect I would have had for my body if I grew up in a society that celebrated body’s at any size.
As a curvy woman, how differently I would have felt if I was born in an era where curves were loved and admired.
Our media isn’t going to change any time soon; not without grass-roots change on an individual level.
It is going to take each of us to step out of the illusion we have been fed that we are the sum total of how we look.
We need to respect how incredible we are in our totality; our hearts, minds, values, beliefs, actions, connections, creativity, spirit and energy.
I love my body these days; but I still fall prey to thoughts that if I lost weight I’d be more attractive. It’s a belief I have been fed since I was little and a belief reinforced by the diet industry and magazines.
I am so committed to overturning those thoughts;
to respect myself and my body just as I am….
To continue to treat my body with respect by nourishing it with good food (no diets here!) and give it tender loving words of appreciation and gratitude.
My hope is that all women step out of the madness of body shame and learn to love and respect their beautiful bodies, and not let their message and power be diminished because of how they look.