1. Jes Baker is a bad-ass!
I first learned about Jes from her, Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls…So I Will, article.
“You’re allowed to fall in love with yourself. I promise. This will be the scariest thing you will ever do, and that’s okay. It will also be the most amazing (albeit super gradual) experience you will ever have. It doesn’t make you narcissistic. It doesn’t make you vain. It is liberating in every form of the word.”
Her articles about body acceptance continued to blow up my newsfeed and I was immediately inspired by her ability to decimate the boundaries society puts in front of us. Her messages weren’t just for fat women, they were for all women! We each have our own hurdles to climb as we seek self-love.
Jes, and a team of remarkable volunteers, took all of the empowering messages you can find within The Militant Baker’s blog and set the tone for The Body Love Conference. Then they found bloggers, presenters, professional speakers, and therapists from around the United States and invited us to take part.
The Jes you feel like you know from reading her work is the Jes you get to spend time with in person. She picked me up from the airport, upon my arrival to Tucson on April 3rd, and I felt like we were long lost friends gabbing non-stop as we drove to the hotel. I’m not sure she realizes how much of an inspiration she is to me and countless others. I adore her and yes she’s a bad-ass!
2. Body love is a journey.
The journey to loving your body doesn’t usually have a destination, that is unless you were in Tucson on April 5th for The Body Love Conference. I’m sure for some attendees it was difficult to even walk through the conference doors. For others, they had been waiting for a day like this their entire life. What every person realized immediately was that they weren’t alone. They had found a safe-space full of love and acceptance.
Jes had originally envisioned The Body Love Conference as a 50 person event. It ended up being a conference with 400 attendees and 35 presenters. I couldn’t believe how many of my personal heroes were in the same room at the same time. It was unreal!! I was honored to play a small role by presenting about how to find a size friendly healthcare provider.
Here are a few examples of other presentations; Perfectly Imperfect, Self-Advocacy Toolbox, Hot Sex and the Curvy Girl, Raising Body Positive Kids, Loving Your Body Online, and so much more!!! There truly was something for everyone. Tess Munster, a plus size model, was the keynote speaker and shared her story and moved the room to tears.
I have to believe each person left the conference a little further down the road on their personal body love journey than when they first arrived.
3. Community is critical.
Following the conference I rested my very swollen feet and badly burned body (I had a little too much fun poolside with my friend Shanna Katz and new friend Tess on Friday). I knew I had to pull myself together and get dolled up because World Famous *Bob* was hosting The Every Body’s Beautiful Review that evening at 9:30 pm.
Kiyonna had sent me a dress to wear, a leopard dress! I put on a ton of makeup, including fake eyelashes, and my most critical accessory – a confident smile. I knew the night was going to be the cherry on top of a day that was unlike any of us had ever experienced.
I’m now convinced every conference should end with a burlesque and performance show because it was amazing! I noticed myself crying happy tears during more than one performance. The night came to an end way too quickly and upon returning to the hotel I jumped onto the computer in the lobby to share my happiness via a few Facebook posts.
Then it happened…after 3 incredible days in Tucson, where people only empowered one another, my body love bubble was burst. A few men walked into the hotel and said, “So did that Body Love Conference eat you guys out of house and hotel?” Then one of the men noticed me sitting to their left and said, “Shhhh! There’s one of them.” I had enjoyed a few drinks at the event so, while never looking up at them, I called out, “Ignorance must be bliss!” (there may have been another special word added to that statement). They proceeded to walk past me shouting, “Booooody Looooove!”
That negative incident in no way took away from my awe inspiring experience. It was, however, a strong reminder that no matter how far along I am with loving myself, there will always be that person who receives great personal satisfaction by bringing others down.
There is POWER in community and it’s critical to only surround yourself with those who love you for who you are. There will always be those who are uncomfortable with the notion that a fat woman can love her body and look fabulous in a leopard dress. Or that a skinny woman can struggle with her body image. Let’s come together, as women and those who are our allies, to lift one another up. It’s time to emulate everything that was shared at the Body Love Conference within our own communities.
It’s my greatest hope that The Body Love Conference becomes an annual event. A time where women of all sizes, colors, beliefs, and ages come together to celebrate our bodies! Until next time be sure to follow The Body Love Conference on Facebook and Twitter to be kept up-to-date.
Lastly, thank you once again to Jes and all of the wonderful Body Love volunteers for rocking our world! Here’s a short video about my experience at The Body Love Conference.
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