Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies: Ilya Parker

Ilya Parker is a 34 year old black & indigenous genderqueer living in NC. As a holistic healer and traveling physical therapist, he enjoys being in the service of others. He is a grassroots and community organizer advocating for black and queer justice. His passions are nature and strength training.


Body Image has affected my life in several ways, and most of the ways were difficult to deal with growing up. I can remember experiencing the most hurt regarding my body/body image from my immediate family. I have always been slightly overweight. Couple that with being female identified and having an overtly masculinized appearance… you can imagine the constant scrutiny and downright disdain towards my look.

For those of us that reside outside the limiting constraint of what society deems as appropriate body images (which is usually the majority of us, by the way), it can be particularly challenging finding an external source of acceptance. Many folks often say, “You don’t need others to define you.” But we do, and we seek support and affirmation from one another daily. In fact, this is why media has so many multi-million dollar campaigns selling ideal body images to us. We long for this approval.

To date I have lost over 65 pounds of weight and counting. Many compliment my body. Yet, I still struggle with body image. I still focus on every flaw. I still hear the words of my mom and sister criticizing my image. I have been conditioned to negatively critique myself, even when others are doing the opposite to me. However, each day I find more ways to incorporate self-love, self-care and self-healing into my daily life. Each day it becomes easier for me to accept my body and the image it casts.

– Ilya Parker


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