Love Your Body, a campaign of the NOW Foundation, “challenges the message that a woman’s value is best measured through her willingness and ability to embody current beauty standards.” Women and girls are told, every day and in so many ways, that being admired, envied and desired based on their looks is a primary function of true womanhood. The beauty standards enforced by our society are rigid, narrow, unrealistic, and very, very white.
The concept of loving oneself — of loving one’s body — can be met with serious resistance. As the staffer who moderates comments on this blog and on our Facebook page — places clearly open and thoughtful in regards to feminist philosophy and issues — I am often amazed at the harsh remarks made on posts about body acceptance and the dangers of beauty norms, two things I certainly consider to be feminist issues. The flip side to that, however, are comments from individuals who have had long journeys to acceptance of themselves, inside and out. A lack of body acceptance seems so universal, yet manifests itself so differently.
Some of these stories remind me of my own. I have yet to reach my destination — I’m actually not sure if there is one — but I continue on this path in the hopes of reaching the land of acceptance someday. Occasionally I end up fighting myself, a battle pitched over the question of my value as a person that is, sadly, often tangled up with how I view my “outsides”. I forge ahead, because I don’t really have a choice otherwise. And at the end of the day, I know the 13 year old version of me (the one who really hated how she looked, the one who tried to hide herself behind bangs and long hair and baggy jeans and couldn’t wait to get out of her hometown) would actually think 26 year old me is pretty awesome.
That’s why I love managing the Love Your Body poster contest and other aspects of the campaign. Every year, I read stories and see others share their own experiences. And while we have different experiences that have shaped us in different ways, many of us have ended up here: in the feminist community.
We will be updating this page throughout the day, adding stories and comments as they come in. I encourage readers to leave their own remarks on what “love your body” means to them in the comments section down below.
Happy Love Your Body Day!
-Caitlin Gullickson, Senior Communications Associate
NOW Staff & Interns
The idea of “love your body” is so complicated and personal for all of us. The messages we are sent as children about how we should look become even harder to navigate as we age, and they often conflict. I’ve come to learn that self-acceptance is a journey, one I don’t always even realize that I’m on! Allyson Goldsmith, Online Communications Manager
In a society plagued by beauty norms that are near impossible to fulfill, loving your body is a revolutionary act. An unfortunate but crucial part of loving your body in today’s world is knowing that there are skin colors, hairstyles, shapes, sizes, and abilities outside of our cultural beauty norms that are just as beautiful. Fashion magazines and celebrities do not have the right to define our beauty. Our bodies are our own and we are the only ones with the right to define them.
I have always been curvy and had a body type that does not represent conventional beauty, but that is the only body that I know. Love Your Body Day is a chance for me to pledge to myself that I will stop fighting the body that society teaches me to hate and embrace the body that deserves pride, acceptance, and love. Katie Hargrave, Communications Intern
For me, loving your own body means loving all bodies. Whenever I find myself critiquing some aspect of a stranger’s body around me, I also often find that I’m actually criticizing a flaw I see in myself. I spend that time not only objectifying another person’s perfectly lovable body, but also telling my body that it’s unacceptable. Being able to love your own body means being able to see the beauty in every body, the perfection of every individual flaw. Understanding how to love your body is understanding that there’s no one right way to have a body. Duncan Stewart, Communications Intern
At my age, 81, I’m glad it is still above ground. I love it because it still supports my every activity. Even the bad ones: smoking, drinking, TV Crime shows, you name it. Jeanne
I think of my body as a loyal obedient animal that I live in and use. I believe it wants me to love it, just as my cat does. I think that it deserves to be taken care of, just as my cat does. Carolyn
Just completely comfortable in my own skin. Patricia
I am grateful for a healthy body and do my best to take care of it. I am what I am! Sara
I tell myself and my girls, that there is only ONE of you. You are unique and nobody could ever be like you. Love your body for the way it is, only you have a body like that, love it!!! Tracy
I’m a 44-year-old teacher. I wanted to take yoga for my low back pain, but couldn’t find an after-school class. So this summer, I became a yoga instructor. I was the oldest, least flexible person in the class, but I completed training and I now teach after school twice a week. I feel so much better about my body and my health now! How I FEEL dictates how I LOOK, not the other way around. Stephanie
Loving my body means rejecting what the media tells society women are “supposed” to look like on any given day…EVERY day I make a point to compliment OTHER women on a unique quality I see UNRELATED to how thin, fit or “pretty” they may be. It’s my subtle way of planting a seed of their own greatness and how I love my BODY and MYSELF. Hold each other up…Please…WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER. Jennifer
This body helps keep me alive! Tessa
Accept yourself on every step of the journey while getting to your goal. Be your own work in progress. Helena
The definition provided by Girls Inc. National in our Mind+Body Initiative is: Body Image: Girls of all shapes, sizes, weights, and capabilities have the right to feel good about their bodies and appreciate the bodies of others. Girls Inc. of Santa Fe
My Love Your Body story is a reminder that the pressure to judge our bodies by cosmetic standards ignores the entire point that our bodies are a vessel for action and discovery. That’s the true power that our bodies have and why body standards are a feminist issue. I went through a series of injuries as a young, healthy, active, feminist right out of college. For 4 years I did everything my doctors advised; dedicated myself to every course of physical therapy, painful injections and medicines. For all of the time and money that I spent I had very little improvement, which only compounded the physical pain with emotional pain.
The experience certainly reinforced my commitment to women’s health and reforming the health insurance system through a public health insurance option, which I worked on with my local NOW chapter throughout that time. I finally made a choice to let go of a very limited style of thinking that the success measure of healing rests on whether I returned my body to its pre-injury state of functioning. I began to see the injury as an opening to possibilities that I hadn’t considered for my body or my life. I took control of my health and incorporated more Eastern medicine, which made the rest of my body and my mind stronger than it had ever been.
The injury is permanent and it is something that I work around every day, but it is no longer a wall or a sign of my failure. It is a lesson that I will apply to the process of aging in a youth obsessed culture as well. We have to value ourselves in our present state. I started taking more risks in my personal and professional life and began the process of earning my master’s degree. I promised myself that by my next birthday I would be well enough to fulfill a lifelong dream of learning to scuba dive, which I did. Trying to “fix” my body after an injury was like plugging holes on a sinking ship. I could have drowned continuing down the conventional path that I was on, but (figuratively and literally) I chose to make an unscheduled wreck dive instead. Far better things were waiting for me there. Love your body; whatever it goes through, whatever it looks like, whatever it can do for you right now. Begin again. Jessica from New Jersey
Thank you, from all of us at NOW, to those who participated!