Body Image Series #14 features Rose Gold of B(i)G™ – Body Image Guru. Rose is a great resource for the topic of body image. Be sure to visit her site!
Rose, thank you for taking the time to be a part of the Body Image Series! Let’s start off with your definition of body image.
Body image is the thoughts you internalize about your body from various sources (friends, family, media, doctors). It is something that starts when you are a baby (hello pink ribbons and dresses) and lasts a life time. It takes years to learn negative lessons about your body and it makes sense that unlearning those would take years as well. I wish more people understood that there is no quick fix when it comes to body image issues and just how incredibly complex they are from the political to every day choices.
How does body acceptance play into body image?
I tend to think of body acceptance as a base camp on the body image journey. If positivity is the summit (and this depends on your journey) then acceptance is the perfect place to go back to when you need a rest or to breathe. I have gone back to this base camp 100’s of times over the years. It is a safe place when you need a break from body positivity or being an activist for the community. The prayer, “Help me to accept things I cannot change” is a particularly perfect for people that want to accept their bodies or when dealing with fellow problematic body image warriors.
I love the metaphor! The phrase “body positivity” seems to have some varying opinions. Where do you stand?
It is wonderful that body positivity is getting so much press these days and I really wish that it was a bigger deal when I was younger. I can’t imagine what future generations are going to do with the knowledge and empowerment they are getting today. I do however find it upsetting that it is shown as the only alternative to body negativity. As mentioned before there is also body acceptance but also body neutrality. The media, and I am including all of us on social media, push this ideal that if you are not body positive then you are failing. That is stinking thinking.
I agree! The body image movement is about building others up, not creating more judgements. What role has body image played in your life?
It is my life. I went through a lot of damaging things from when I was younger all the way up to just a few years ago now that I didn’t know where directly related to my body image. When I decided that enough was enough and turned to the internet I found body image warriors that blew my mind. My reason I chose the career path of a Body Image Guru after several years in the body image communities was simple: to change people’s lives particularly the 20+ crowd that have deep seating internalized negativity.
What challenges have you faced related to body image and how have you overcome them?
I’ve been fat all my life and it is hard to believe the hate that I have gotten becoming fat positive being more severe then when I was self loathing but it’s the truth. Happy fatties are so controversial. But I have survived rape, emotional and mental abuse, media/peers constantly telling me I am wrong or worth less, not to mention eating disorders…overcoming shame and lies is 100% something to celebrate in any body shape. The reason that I was able to turn things around is that I found body positive groups online starting in my mid 20’s. I stumbled on the umbrella term in a #bodyimage and along with it #bodypositive, #bodylove and many others until I found leaders in the communities and heard their stories. They were just like me, they struggled and fought back and the cherry on top was a majority of them looked like me. I was getting support by representation if not directly talking with the people. Rejecting most of the media poison out there and replacing it with body positivity and people that looked like me changed my world.
I am so glad you are here, thank you for being open to sharing all that you have been through. Celebrating in any body shape is SO important. Now that you have overcome those experiences, if you could write a note to your younger self, what would it say?
I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t change a thing because everything that I have been through has made me who I am today. I know that sounds ridiculous considering some of the horrific things I have been through but looking back now I know that every single douche bag that I dated, every bullying incident, every boundary that I pushed created this thick skin and enormous love for women and their body image. I feel very protective of fellow women, especially when it comes to how they feel about themselves because I felt like a piece of crap growing up fat. I know that world better than most now that I have years of studying and body image “guruing” under my belt. I never would have come down this path if it were not for everything I went through… so sorry young Rose. LoL!
How do you encourage body acceptance or positivity amongst others?
I am naturally a peace maker between people. I see everyone’s side of the story at the same time and intuitively know where someone’s anger is coming from. I always attempt to repeat a message in several different ways to get people to see eye to eye, maybe they still don’t agree but at least they can part as both being validated that they were heard. One of my favorite things is to let people know it is ok to talk about their bodies. I live for the enthusiasm a person has when they realize I am not grossed out by anything. They’ll tell me they thought they were dying if a heavy abnormal period or tell me their Spoonie diarrhea episodes and I will just sit their listening. What I have learned is that people just want someone to listen them more than getting advice. If I had a secondary thing I do to encourage people it is suggesting communities that they might get a lot of support or representation from.
Describe the philosophy of your practice and how you create a safe space for all body types.
When I am counseling, the first thing that I want people to know is that I am meeting them where they are. I am not coming from a place of “The ultimate goal for your body image journey is XYZ” but rather “what is going on right now and let’s get you liking you as you are.” Nobody goes from body negative to body acceptance/positivity over night. It is critical to start from where someone is at and learn to love that body before making a single movement in terms of lifestyle changes.
Yes! I can tell you really honor the journey. Let’s switch gears a bit and talk about body movement. What type of body movement helps you feel most accepting and/or positive about your body and why?
(I apologize if this is TMI but no one talks about it!) I love yoga and swimming, anything fluid and designed to make you focus on movement but if I am honest, masturbation is when I feel most positive about my body. And that is coming from someone on the Asexual spectrum! Of course it is very intimate and enjoyable but I make the point to be very loving to parts of my body that I sometimes struggle with on my “bad days”. For me it might be inner thighs one day or the stretch mark “valleys” on other days. Really no body knows their body better than the soul inside it and I believe that masturbation is a beautiful and healthy act.
You’re right, no one talks about it! I’m so glad that people have you to reach out to and talk about anything and everything! If body positivity was a recipe, what would the ingredients be?
- Patience because body image is a life long journey.
- Faith in yourself and other people.
- Acceptance of yourself and other people.
- Thick skin to let trolling roll of your back.
- Trust in the process.
- Perseverance because you will fall back into old habits and triggers along the way but you have to keep at it!
Share a favorite body image mantra.
“It is ok to be ok.” You do not have to be perfect, healthy or a boss babe to be valid and worthy of love, respect and a full life. So what if someone calls you a basic b*tch? You have the power to feel anyway you want and like the things you like. If that makes you “ok” or “basic” so be it. You are awesome just as you are.
“What empowers you may not another.” is something that I came up with. It is a reminder that whatever gives one person confidence or body positivity might be anxiety or shame inducing to another. The biggest example I can think of is women posing nude. Some find it offensive or think it is only for the male gaze, while others say it is for themselves or other women to see people like them. There is no clear cut “this is empowering to everyone” way to do body image.
What are your favorite ways to practice self-care?
Alone time. I am a huge introvert. Being alone gives me time to recharge mind, body and soul. I love people but in short spurts.
Can you share some of your favorite body image role models and resources with us?
The women that I consider peers are also my role models. People like Virgie Tovar, Danielle Galvin, Taryn Brumfitt, Honor from Honor Curves, Amanda Levitt, Ragen Chastain, Lindy West… I could go on and on. This is my sisterhood. It is a give and take. We are not perfect and we def are there for one another.
I actually am starting to use my own resource lists on bodyimageguru.com. They are as complete as possible with books, media, lingo, websites and more all to do with body image that I personally recommend. Pretty soon I will have pages with all the info you could want on communities and movements out there too. My hope is that it will be a “one stop shop” for anyone looking for information about any topic of body image.
No body knows you and your body better than you. Use the resources available to you (a body image guru, websites, doctors, nutritionists, pastors, friends, etc.) and build that team of support because you are never in it alone
Thanks again Rose for sharing your experiences with us and for the great body image resources!
About Rose: I am Rose Gold your Body Image Guru from Seattle, WA. I believe that body image is a lifetime journey and occasionally you need a professional to help guide you back to the positivity path. My job is to help you thrive in the skin you are already in. Keep up with Rose on her website, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, and Snapchat.
Coming up next week: “With self-acceptance comes happiness.” -Findley Pollock