On Thursday, students were given 30 seconds to close their eyes and think of their first memory of body shaming.
The Women’s and Gender Studies Program hosted Sonya Renee Taylor, founder of “The Body Is Not An Apology,” an online international movement dedicated to radical self love and body empowerment. Taylor discussed how important it is to indulge in loving one’s self and disregard anyone that says otherwise. She used poems, lectures, and questions to present her points.
Students of all different majors filed into McGuinn 121 to listen to Sonya’s powerful messages about society’s standards on body image and how now is the time to make a change. Sonya told students that the presentation was not actually a formal presentation—it was a conversation between herself and everyone in the room about real life dilemmas.
“When did we learn to hate our bodies?” Taylor asked the crowd.
The body shaming experienced in the United States is not similar to the body shaming that is experienced in other parts of the world, according to Taylor. She knows people are still living in their body shame stories. People grow to believe that the things others say about them are tied to truth, which is why she asked the members of the crowd to think about their first body shaming experiences.
“What people need to work toward is how to disengage that type of story from themselves,” she said.
The beauty market earns $265 billion in profit to sell lipsticks, mascara, and shiny hair products, according to Taylor. When she asked students where this wasted money could go instead, a student in the audience said that according to studies, that amount of money could put 2.5 million people through college.
Taylor then asked what students would do with the average of $12 thousand to $15 thousand a woman spends on beauty products each year. Students said they would pay student loans, pay off credit cards, and even go to Disneyland multiple times.
“This amount of money says a lot about where our priorities are in our society,” Taylor said.
Taylor argued that body shaming is not accidental. It is passed on from person to person like an heirloom that keeps people in power and ensures a desired social order.
She also discussed the effects of body shaming on black people, using the example of black children being targeted for doing normal childlike things like playing with a toy gun.
“This industry will kill us all,” Taylor said. “This is body terrorism.”
Taylor concluded her presentation with her “10 Tools for Radical Self Love.” The first tool she described was “dump the junk.” The “junk” she was referring to was the media, which promotes a narrow image of beauty. Taylor said people should stop looking at the media for beauty inspiration.
The next couple tools were to “curb the fat talk and body bad mouthing,” and “reframe the framework.” These ideals emphasized the importance of staying away from self deprecating language because Taylor has found the way people treat others is really a reflection of how the person feels about him or herself. She advised to make peace with the mind and body.
“Banishing the binary,” and “exploring your terrain” promote the use of a radical self love voice when thinking about body image. Taylor also emphasized the need to “be in motion,” “make a new story,” and “be vulnerable/in a community.” She advised being active in ways that appeal to what one actually enjoys. People shouldn’t run a 5K if they hate running, she said.
Finally, Taylor thanked the audience and revealed her final and most important tool of all, “give yourself some grace.” She said to leave room for the “body road bump days,” also known as the “BRDs,” because successful body image is a serious process.
“This was a very empowering and overdue event that I wish more people could hear at Boston College because I don’t think BC is a place that teaches us to love our bodies,” Grace Mitchell, MCAS ’20, said. “It is great place for growing intellectually and socially, but we don’t learn to love and grow in our bodies.”