This past weekend, I decided to volunteer as a model for a positive body image campaign. It is run by a anti-bullying charity called Ditch the Label. The charity wants to eradicate prejudices of all types as well as bullying. Their approach is holistic: instead of focusing on punishing or shaming bullies, they try to get to the root of why bullies behave the way they do.
They believe that because bullying is a behaviour, it can be changed and stopped. They even offer victims and bystanders strategies for approaching a bully to intervene.
It requires a great supportive network of people to do this, and what a great positive network it is! The body image campaign is set up to display all types of bodies: small, big, bumpy, smooth. The images will be featured across social media (no faces included), with accompanying documentaries.
There will also be a gallery show where visitors can comment positively on the images. The aim is to remind people what the world is really like; how we are all born different.
As part of the campaign, they were looking for female muscular types. My friend shoved the ad in front of me and said ”This is your thing.” Yes, it is my thing. I am the thing. The thing that I have chosen to be as a result of my own decisions. Nobody else’s. A free choice. Why should I be judged for that?
We are judged from the day we are born. There is judgement that we are born male or female and so we should be put in a box: if you’re a boy, you like X. If you’re a girl, you like Y. This is lazy. How about we actually look at the people around us as people and not as things we can put in simple categories?
How about we give each other empowerment: make people feel free to act on their own judgement and make their own decisions? We have fought wars for these rights! Why are we not reaping the benefits? It’s harder to practice than to preach, but everyone– me and you, the amazing people that we are when we are free from fear– has the tools to do so.
That’s why I took part in the Ditch the Label campaign: my muscles are part of my empowerment toolkit. I do what I like to my body and this is the body I get for it. No matter my body and what I do with it, I shouldn’t be judged for it. Now get on with it and go lift!