Body Shaming in a Dressing Room

Photo Courtesy of Refinery29

Photo Courtesy of Refinery29

“Sincerely, Mother of a Beautiful Girl” is how a Kansas mother signed a powerful letter to the sales associate who body shamed her teenage daughter in a dressing room earlier this month while she tried on a dress to wear for an upcoming formal. This associate at  Dillard’s Department Store told the customer shopping with her mom that she would need Spanx in order to wear this particular dress. When the mom told the associate that she wouldn’t need Spanx the associate argued with her. Mother and daughter then left the store and soon after the mother, Megan Naramore Harris, fired back with an open letter to the associate on her own Facebook page. In the letter, Megan said: “I wish I had told you how many girls suffer from poor self image and telling them they need something to make them perfect can be very damaging. Girls of all ages, shapes and sizes are perfect because that is how God made them. If they feel good in a dress, that is all that should matter.”

In less than a week, the story has garnered over 330,000 likes and been shared over 56,000 times (including Dillard’s Facebook page, who thanked Ms. Harris for bringing it to their attention). I am glad that this conversation is gaining momentum. Our words are more powerful than we know and body shaming is extremely harmful, especially to a vulnerable teen. Especially in a dressing room – where we already feel exposed. Hopefully, everyone can feel just a bit more empowered by this strong and supportive mother.

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Make Room for a Body-Changing Documentary

Straight/Curve Documentary

Straight/Curve Documentary

I just want to see every size represented – no labels – all of us.” Heather Hazzan, model featured in the documentary, Straight/Curve

I have spent a lot of time talking on TFIO about the importance of positive body image. Now there is a documentary called “Straight/Curve” set to release the summer of 2016 and it looks awesome! Directed by Jenny McQuaile, Straight/Curve is an insider look at the fashion and modeling industries that exposes the questions of size and body image that have been unaddressed for too long. McQuaile told Glamour Magazine:  “When, how, and why did size zero become the norm when two thirds of women are considered ‘plus-size’ sitting between a size 10 to 14? Our documentary will examine this question. There’s always been a complex relationship between the fashion industry, the media, and body image and we’re finally making a film that will investigate that.”

Like Heather Hazzan, I too look forward to the day when we will see every woman represented – but without any size labels – just the women we are. Take a peek at the teaser trailer. I cannot wait for the summer release!

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AZRA Wants Us To Love Our Bodies

Azra Hirji

Azra Hirji, Associate Editor of Vv Magazine

I found an interview with Vv Magazine (Toronto) and model, blogger, and fashion influencer, Nadia Aboulhosn, and while reading it my heart skipped a beat. Suddenly, I had to know more – not only about Ms. Aboulhosn – but the woman who wrote the piece, Associate Editor, Azra Hirji. Ms. Hirji is writing about things I care about and this young woman has the heart of an old soul. It reminded me once again that we are all connected despite our age differences and where we may live. Meet Azra Hirji

MKG: What is Vv Magazine? How long have you been Associate Editor?

AZRA: Vv Magazine or ViewTheVibe.com is a hub of sorts for all things news, food and drink, lifestyle and culture. We aim to produce thought-provoking features as well as pieces that keep our readers informed about current events and trends and hope to keep the stories interactive. We want to be controversial, while raising awareness about important issues in which we truly believe.

I’ve been an Associate Editor here at Vv for just over a year. Continue reading

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Nicole Gets Married

Nicole is married!

Nicole gets married!   Photo credit: Jacob Leatherman

Here is news to celebrate: Nicole, founder and creator of the website, Body Boop, got married last month! I met Nicole last June, when I featured her on TFIO, sharing her message to love and accept ourselves just as we are. Nicole, who struggled for years with anorexia and bulimia, has been building back her life with courage and conviction. I later followed Nicole as she shopped for a wedding dress and dealt with the body issues that came with that process. And now, I am thrilled to share that Nicole is happily married! I am so impressed by Nicole’s ability to not only tell her story, but also to help so many others who may be struggling at this very moment in time. What a difference Nicole is making, and I can’t wait to see how far she goes!!

Here, in her own words, Nicole talks about being a bride:

So, no, I was not the skinniest bride. There are those out there who might think, oh, she could have lost a few lbs. for something like this. And they can say that. I have to keep reminding myself, even as I’m looking through the photos that are coming in, that I am so incredibly happy in my life right now and that I felt the most beautiful I have ever felt on that day. I can criticize my stomach or my arms or my double chin in those photos all day long, but that day was magic and I felt gorgeous. It will be a mission of mine to keep that feeling with me at all times.” ~ Nicole

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Following Nicole on her journey to marriage and self-love

Nicole at her first bridal shower, with her Aunt  - feeling beautify and empowered

Nicole at her first bridal shower, with her Aunt Margaret – feeling beautiful and empowered

Let’s face it: we all have enough negative body speak in our arsenal to drag our mood down by deep degrees. We may find ourselves noticing the things that are changing about our bodies, comparing ourselves to others, and wishing things could be different; the list goes on. For Nicole, creator of Body Boop, whom I first featured on TFIO in early June, body image is an especially delicate issue, because Nicole had struggled with anorexia and bulimia for years. Fortunately, she has been in a healthy cycle of recovery for two years, but the journey is still challenging, especially for Nicole now, as she prepares to be married in September. And especially, when it comes to the fashion …

Here is an example: not long after Nicole and I spoke, she attended two bridal showers. Two showers, two different cities, two different dresses –  and only 2 weeks between. For the first shower, Nicole felt beautiful; as she says, “It was the perfect energy, though out the day.” For the second, however, everything had flip-flopped. Nicole says she felt “ugly” and “uncomfortable.” She was the same person. The dresses were similar. Nothing had changed except her mindset. Thinking about it afterward, Nicole says it was a reminder that the bad feeling you may have one moment, one day, will not last, and you will feel better again.

Last week, Nicole had her first wedding gown fitting, and it proved to be really stressful. Continue reading

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Nicole’s Body Boop Message of Self-Acceptance …

Nicole, and yes, she IS!

Nicole, and yes, she IS!

Nicole with her fiancé Photo credit:  Tim Jarosz/Orange 2 Photography

Nicole with her fiancé, James
Photo credit: Tim Jarosz/Orange 2 Photography

Every now and then I meet someone who reminds me why I love to share stories. This is a special story of a lovely 28-year old woman, named Nicole. Nicole is a journalist and the author of Body Boop, a website designed to encourage people to be authentic and comfortable with who they are, with a message that says, ‘you don’t have to be like anyone else or compare yourself to others, anymore.’ It is a message that Nicole had to learn herself, in her young life, as she struggled with the diseases of anorexia and bulimia. Diagnosed when she was 14, and hospitalized for treatment three times in her already young life, Nicole has fought hard to love herself and her body just as she is. As I write this, I am thrilled to tell you that Nicole has been doing very well the past four years, is in a healthy place, and is about to be married in September.

My heart sings when I think of Nicole’s courage and her willingness to share her story so that others can find health and peace and self acceptance. I will continue to follow Nicole in her journey as she prepares for her wedding in a few months. Today, Nicole and I spoke about her relationship with fashion and the role that clothing plays in her life …

MKG: When did you start your blog and how did you choose the name, Body Boop?

Nicole: My blog has been live for one month but it has been a dream of mine for a long time. My background is in journalism and I knew I could write it, but I wanted to make sure that I was completely healthy so that my message would be 100% healthy for everyone else.The word ‘Boop’ is something my fiancé and I use with each other; it means nudge or encouragement and that’s what I want to do for others – encourage. Continue reading

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You’re going to want a Lisa Curran swimsuit. I promise.

When I posted this interview with the talented swimsuit designer, Lisa Curran, a few weeks ago, I could not have imagined the deep connection between swimwear and body image. Wearing a swimsuit is the least amount of clothing we wear in public, and with that awareness, comes a feeling of exposure and vulnerability. After contemplating the release of Swimsuits for All’s new calendar, it seemed like this interview deserved a second play. I was impressed by Lisa’s forthcoming point of view and honest exchange with me in this conversation.

After watching, you’re going to want a Lisa Curran swimsuit. Go to the Lisa Curran website, and get 25% off when you use the code: MELISSA2014.

Thank you to Lisa Curran and Stefanie Messercola of Lisa Curran Swim, Lisa Reznik, and Claudine Liss 

Credits: Directed by Claudine Liss; Photography by Lisa Reznik; Editing by Odeon Films

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A new kind of swimsuit calendar? I’m buying it!

Swimsuits for All

Swimsuits for All”: This picture reenacts an image from this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (Photo courtesy of Swimsuits for All)

I think there needs to be more publications and campaigns so that people can say, ‘Wow, I look like these women, and they look comfortable and sexy and they’re portraying my body type,” 24-year-old British model Jada Sezer

News via Buzzfeed Style: Plus-size swimsuit company, Swimsuits for All, has shot a new calendar with plus-sized models, including this picture, above, reenacting this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. A more positive image for women everywhere and role models to highlight real women and true diversity in the world? Yeah! I’m buying it!

(the calendar, shot in Turks and Caicos, is available for free on the Swimsuits for All website) Continue reading

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A swimsuit conversation with Lisa Curran …

Lisa Curran and me during our interview; Lisa is wearing The Beach Party

Lisa Curran and me; Lisa is wearing Lisa Curran Swim’s The Perfect Beach Dress                       Photo Credit: Lisa Reznik

It’s finally spring and we are all starting to think about swimsuits and swimsuit shopping. But first, we must address how we feel about who we are and how we see ourselves. Who better to dish with than Lisa Curran herself, designer and founder of Lisa Curran Swim. Lisa and I met a year ago and today, we are back, recording a video that goes beyond our first conversation; talking about body image and the connection between swimsuits and self esteem, and how women and girls can feel empowered rather than discouraged by shopping for swimwear. Continue reading

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I’m not buying that!

 

P1000049 3When I asked my seventeen-year old and fourteen year-old sons if they knew what ‘thigh gap‘ meant, they stared at me blankly. But I bet if I asked any mother of a teenage daughter what it meant, I would get a mouthful. Thigh gap refers to the space between one’s thighs. It is normal for thighs to touch. And that is just fine. But some fashion brands are Photoshopping and adding thigh gaps where there should be none. It is creating a worrying trend, especially among younger girls, and it is getting out of hand. Last week Target released an image of a young woman that had obviously been altered, wearing a Junior’s bikini. One would ask, where are her missing parts? Target apologized and the ad was pulled immediately. Now, it’s Old Navy; accused of Photoshopping images from its website, depicting thigh gaps on their plus-sized mannequins. Don’t we give ourselves enough of a hard time without these images making it worse? And what about the fact that our young girls and teens are being marketed with unrealistic body representation. It’s harmful to them. It should stop. I’m not buying that!

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