When I was younger, I didn't really want to wear skirts. Not because I didn't like them but because I was constantly teased for my thinness that was especially obvious when I wore short skirts or shorts and it made me feel way too self-conscious.
I bet you're now thinking, »There are worse things to be teased for,« and yeah, to some extent you're absolutely right, but try explaining that to my 12-year-old self and you'd be met with little understanding and I'd still go to school in my long pair of jeans the next day.
Fast forward 18 years from then when someone, when I explain I'll be teaching someone else's yoga classes from now on, says, »Oh yeah, it's probably better that way since you're skinnier and all.« For a second, I didn't know what to do, but when I did eventually realize that that person deserves to be met with all the fu*ks I can give, he was long gone.
In those years between the lack of skirts in my wardrobe and the yoga comment, there were around a bazillion similar comments coming from all over the place, putting way too much emphasis on my body, that did absolutely nothing good.
And that brings me to something that a lot of people are struggling with, including men---body image. With the media bombarding us with »perfect bodies« from every direction, perpetuating myths and bullsh*t, it's hard to get to the core of it. Or better said, our core, our self-love. And sometimes we all need a little help from our (sometimes virtual) friends (and yes, that was a Joe Cocker reference).
Enter social media---this time as a hero, not a villain---and body positivity. Body positivity, according to Urban Dictionary, is »accepting your body as it is and attempting to make everyone else feel comfortable in their own skin as well.« Hell freaking yes to all of this!
There are quite a few body positivity Instagram accounts and I’ve been following a few for a while now, especially those focusing on busting the stereotypes of the yoga world, but there’s one that I’ve stumbled upon just recently. It’s an Instagram profile of a Slovenian body positivity project---I Am All (Wo)Men---that encourages self-love and self-acceptance by sharing stories of those who have struggled with this in the past, may it be because of their body type, skin color, gender or because of an illness they were or are struggling with, and letting their readers know they are not alone and it is possible to enjoy and nourish and, dare I say, even worship your body no matter the size.
Even though all the models pose in their underwear, it has nothing to do with sexuality but rather with presenting and seeing the person as (s)he is, in their most natural light, revealing their true selves. The aim is to introduce people of different body types, skin colors, shapes, sizes, and backgrounds---and celebrate them all. The project doesn’t just reveal people’s bodies but their souls, their stories and their essence.
In its almost two years of existence, I Am All (Wo)Men has grown from an Instagram project to a real community of happy as well as positive people, who feel good in their own skin and are always there as support when you need it.
Now this, I think, is something we definitely need more of---people supporting people and celebrating all bodies!
So before you go telling (wo)men why they need to lose weight, how they need to look, if/if not they should wear makeup or anything along those lines, gently walk yourself to the bathroom, have a hard, long look in the mirror, look---and I mean really look---at who is looking back at you and ask yourself: why on Earth does it bother me so much that someone loves the skin they live in as much as they do? And how can I get to that point too?
And then, if you need a little help getting there, be sure to check out I Am All (Wo)Men and be inspired as well as assured that we're all in this together. We've got this. <3