On Body Image: A Bead & Reel Collaboration

I brought together 10 unique women from different places, occupations, and ages and asked them to share their thoughts on body image.


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WHEN DID YOU START TO LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR BODY?

Growing up as a ballet dancer, it was essential for me to find my own definition of a healthy body very early on. As a teenager, I constantly had to be conscious of not letting other people like my ballet teacher define what’s an acceptable shape and form. After all, it’s my body not theirs.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM?

By continuing to push the boundaries of my own mental, spiritual, artistic and physical capacities.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STRUGGLING WITH HOW THEY LOOK?

Your look doesn’t define you. It’s what’s on the inside that counts so nurture yourself from within and the rest will take care of itself.

 
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WHEN DID YOU START TO LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR BODY?

About 3 years ago after back surgery. I’d been in horrible pain for years and was so angry with my body, so frustrated at not being able to move without pain. I grew up a dancer and took movement for granted and instead would do what I think a lot of people do. Focus on how I looked and what I wanted to “fix”. After surgery, during the long months of recovery I was able to step back and appreciate what my body could actually do. Sit up without pain? That was a win! Walk an entire block? Another win! I went from knit picking the size of my waist or legs or whatever to really celebrating my body as a functioning thing. It wasn’t just something to look at anymore.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM?

By doing things that feed me internally. I meditate, read, walk around a park, drink lots of tea, things like that. I also have to create things or I feel awful. It doesn’t matter if it’s knitting a sweater or writing, or decorating a birthday card, creating something makes me come alive.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STRUGGLING WITH HOW THEY LOOK?

No body shaming, ever. Not about yourself, or anyone else. I mean really what’s the point? Has beating yourself up ever led to something positive? Plus, we get enough messages out there in the world, telling us we’re not good enough, you don’t need to join them. I would also say get rid of your scale. Weight depends on so many fluctuating variables you really can’t trust those suckers. Instead focus on how you feel. Creating that internal measuring stick is very powerful.

 
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marci joy frumkin

WHEN DID YOU START TO LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR BODY?

It is still a work in process… I love that it’s healthy and functional, if not perfect in size and shape.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM?

I try to avoid the most offensive outside influences that can really play on it… obvious ones like fashion magazines and media of other types. In many ways it’s inescapable and at that point I go back to the point above --- appreciating and being grateful for what I have.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STRUGGLING WITH HOW THEY LOOK?

Focus on what is great about who you are – your uniqueness as a human is what’s amazing. And chase the fucking demons out of your head. I think those demons exist for everyone, even the classically beautiful. They are bastards, don’t listen to them. Beauty is about embracing who you, warts and all.

 
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WHEN DID YOU START TO LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR BODY?

I have struggled a lot with my body in the past. When I became vegan it eliminated every single piece of that. It gave me strength without guilt and I am constantly eating a healthy diet without depriving myself.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM?

I maintain my self esteem by not trying to get caught up in the media and not comparing myself to others. Everyone should be different, it's what makes us special.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STRUGGLING WITH HOW THEY LOOK?

For women that are struggling with how they look, I completely understand. I think not feeling totally confident is unfortunately just the way being a woman works. We're constantly pressure to be a certain way and think a certain way. I would tell these beautiful women to be strong. We're amazing creatures, and we need to know that we are beautiful in and out.


 
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WHEN DID YOU START TO LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR BODY?

As long as I can remember I’ve loved my body, its all my ancestors, it’s me. My face, my hands, my feet, my brain, my guts, it’s all I got, and I like it. My body is my sisters, my mother, my father, all the people who came before me, and maybe, I’m not sure yet, the people that will come after me. I love it, I always have.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM?

My grandmother used to have a saying “remember who you are” that my father would reiterate to me when I was flailing in life. I try to stay curious, stay interested and become more knowledgeable about the world. I try to expand my art and welcome people into my life. I think it also gives me power to remember that conventional wisdom is often wrong.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STRUGGLING WITH HOW THEY LOOK?

If you ever need to, going full punk-rock is always an option. It really, truly is. You are not trapped and you can choose as you damn well please, even if it seems impossible. No one can tell you how to look. The people who do, I promise you, they don’t know how to look themselves.

 
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WHEN DID YOU START TO LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR BODY?

I grew up with a very high metabolism so it was difficult for me to gain any kind of weight. I didn't break 100 lbs until my 20s! Because of this, I was always made to feel abnormal or like I had some kind of problem. For some reason, people were not shy about speaking their opinion on MY body. I guess there's just no social stigma to comment on someone's body if he or she is thin but I definitely developed very low self esteem because of this. I started to accept myself only recently with the rise of social media. Seeing how other women love and appreciate their bodies, no matter their size, encouraged me to do the same and I felt less alone. It's so important not to compare yourself with other women but to stand with each other and embrace the beauty and natural wonder that we all possess.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM?

Everyday I look in the mirror, I try not to get hung up on biological flaws. It's so easy to be insecure but I like a challenge. I cherish what makes me unique and remind myself that I am just a vessel that the universe has chosen to express itself through. It's quite comforting.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STRUGGLING WITH HOW THEY LOOK?

I strongly advise against comparing yourself to others. No one is perfect or has it all figured out and I'm sure the woman you think you want to look or be like has countless insecurities of her own. We are all human beings experiencing the absurdity that is life together.

 
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WHEN DID YOU START TO LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR BODY?

I only became self-conscious of my body when other people pointed things out. A few years back when a friend of mine pointed out my thunder thighs, I developed a mindfulness of my legs. I began comparing myself to the girls in ballet class, noticing many of them were more slender. The more sports I did, the more muscle I gained. Eventually, instead of worrying about my muscular stature, I began to think of my body as a tool, a machine to accomplish great things.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM?

In today's society, it’s hard not to want to be like someone else. In order to maintain my self-esteem, I remember that my family and friends love me for who I am.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STRUGGLING WITH HOW THEY LOOK?

Unfortunately, in today's society, it's incredibly hard to accept yourself. The media is constantly presenting a single body-type, allowing a variety of women to believe they are imperfect. I think that if it weren't for this exposure, women today would not be struggling so much with themselves. Some common advice would be: "Don't worry about what you look like on the outside but who you are in the inside." Don't try to be someone you're not because remember that your loved ones desire YOU, not the celebrity. Remember that you're beautiful and separate your self from those people in your life that tell you otherwise. Finally, acknowledge your talents and set goals to be a better you.

 
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WHEN DID YOU START TO LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR BODY?

I recall accepting and loving my body as being a direct correlation with removing animals from my plate. An emotion burden that I had been trying to push aside was suddenly lifted. I immediately felt 'lighter, happier' knowing that I was not directly contributing to the horrific mistreatment of innocent animals any longer. I'm surviving and thriving as an 8 year vegan! My conscience and my body are both happier than ever.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM?

I believe that great self esteem comes from being the kind of person you would admire. Every day. Even the tiniest kind gestures to strangers does so much for my soul. If you are doing something daily that bothers you or brings you down... that needs to change. Positive self talk can be learned. Just tell yourself that you already are who you want to be! Fake it 'til you make it works wonders.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STRUGGLING WITH HOW THEY LOOK?

Let me say that as children we all thought we were awesome. I can't think of a child who doesn't like her nose or thinks his feet are too big. Most of adults with body image issues have them because of someone else pointing out, or making fun of, what they considered a physical flaw. Isn't that sad? We can carry that hurt through our entire life. When I was in 8th grade I was teased by a group of girls for my 'ski slope' nose. It's always been a nice little turned up nose that never bothered me. It hurt my feelings as a sensitive 14 year old but I never thought I needed a nose job, thank heavens. What other people think truly doesn't matter. It does NOT matter. For women who struggle with the way they look, I would say ask yourself 'why do I hate my legs, ears, tummy, etc'? What is so wrong with your healthy body that carries you through everyday? I doubt there is a legitimate reason not to love all of you. Maybe taking better care of yourself with good food and sleep and exercise will change your whole view.

 
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WHEN DID YOU START TO LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR BODY?

I believe that loving your body is only one part of loving yourself. 6 years ago I lost everything.I had no money, no job, no home. My mom had passed away, and my entire family of origin betrayed and abandoned me. I had just gotten out of an abusive relationship and I was at the bottom. Out of desperation I stayed at a random man's dirt lot, in the mountains, in a rat infested trailer. I was homeless and hungry. I had 2 choices. I could feel sorry for myself and continue to live that way, or I could love myself and be my own hero. That was the day I learned the true meaning of self love.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM?

How I maintain my self esteem today is by positive self talk, affirmations, meditation, yoga, and dancing.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STRUGGLING WITH HOW THEY LOOK?

The advice I have for women struggling with how they look is to do the best you can with self love and self care and naturally your beauty will radiate.

 
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kathy heil

WHEN DID YOU START TO LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR BODY?

I am still working on it.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM?

I maintain friendships with people who accept and enjoy me for who I am. I participate in activities that I enjoy, with friends and family when possible. I help others when the opportunity arises.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STRUGGLING WITH HOW THEY LOOK?

Spend time with people who accept you for you. And you can feel better about your look by making a few changes in your wardrobe and appearance. Get those friends to help you - it could be great fun!



 

All clothing from Bead & Reel brands
Location – Pollution Studios
Photographer – Felicia Lasala
Hair/Make-Up – Genevieve Garner
Creative Director – Sica Schmitz
Interns: Ruby Leon, Adam Montelongo

Special Thanks to Asher Brown and all these beautiful women for helping bring this to life