When we think about body image, we rarely consider its diversity. Social Justice is expanding the way we view ourselves and our connection to others. We recreate ourselves as we open our lives to experiences, views, and bodies different from our own. In recognition of Disability History and Awareness Month, BodyImage4Justice is honored to present today’s reflection by Kamisha Heriveaux, a young leader from the EPIC Service Warrior program.
When I think of my body, four words come to mind: vulnerable, powerful, driven and weak. As a woman with a disability, I have received a variety of messages about how my body does or does not fit what a person should be. Having a physical disability changes the way others often view me. My body, my mind, and my spirit are not always the first things seen, and are not always what people base their interactions with me on. Instead they see my chair. My chair has played a part in how I view my body, but my ongoing fight is to get others to understand that my chair does not define me.
I continue to work on myself, and surround myself with others who don’t treat me differently based on my chair. I am lucky to have supportive family and friends, and to be part of programs and communities that help me continue to find my power and myself as I embrace the body I have been given. My body may not be what magazines, television, and society see as the norm, but I am proud of my body, my ability and my disability. As I continue to grow with that knowledge, I hope that other young people with disabilities can begin to embrace the power and beauty their body holds.
– Kamisha Heriveaux
EPIC (Empowering People for Inclusive Communities) prepares young people with disabilities to be actively engaged community leaders through education, leadership development and community service. EPIC Service Warriors is a one year community service and leadership development program for youth with disabilities in the Greater Boston Area. Learn more at http://www.epicleaders.org
Today’s reflection comes to us from Alphie McQueen.
We all were created differently. Some of us are short, tall, petite, plus size, or just a bit of “junk in the trunk.” These characteristics are what make us beautiful. So why not embrace them?
Body image is important to me because it gives me that extra boost of confidence I need. My body is very versatile, meaning it can be portrayed as masculine as well as feminine. I have received modeling jobs and casting calls because of my body. Now I must admit, it takes hard work and dedication. Eating right, exercise, and skin care are daily regimens for me. But it pays off. I take every comment, and take it as a complement. I walk outside with my head held high. I see myself as a star, and remember that we’re all created in God’s image.
In closing, Love the way God made you. If you don’t like the way you look, improve it.
– Alphie Travis McQueen
BodyImage4Justice is proud to announce our Gym Scholarship Program for low-income transgender and genderqueer people in the Boston, MA area. This program is designed to support our community members in achieving their health, fitness, and body image goals by providing financial assistance towards gym membership and consultations with a personal trainer. The program is funded by the proceeds from BI4J raffles and the generous contributions of our business sponsors, partner organizations, and friends in the Boston area LGBTQ community.
Please visit our Gym Scholarship Program page for more details and links to the scholarship application form.
Today’s thoughts on body image and the self come to us from L. Tahj Carter.
As a child my body belonged to the person who protected it. She taught me how to treat it. To preserve it. She taught me everything about my body as if it was her own. She gave birth to my body who was identical to hers. She owned it.
My body grew up, and the reflection that my body saw was a empty shell. A nasty distaste. Who is this person looking back at me? The mind controls the body. I put poison into my mind, and through my mouth poison consumed me. I gained one hundred pounds of stress in this shell I call body. Trying to treat it the way she instilled in my mind. Did she control my mind? She controlled my thoughts. My movements. My mind. I am at 245 lbs. The doctor is writing Massive obese on my chart. I can’t move. I can’t breathe. I can’t hide.
The moment I broke my chain, I controlled my mind. The eyes in the mirror belong to the boy in the shell. He no longer needed to consume massive amounts of food, alcohol, cigarettes. He no longer pretended to see the reflection of the person he dreamed he would grow up to be. He no longer pretended that he was not he and he was just she. He was no longer afraid.
I cut my cord and I began to have a new taste–for life. Cleansed the mind, cleansed the body, cleansed the spirit. My body shed many of the demons I packed on it. I am currently 168 lbs.
Many people say that the heart is the strongest thing in the body, but I beg to differ. The heart can always be restarted. It can sometimes be substituted. You can NEVER substitute your mind, it can never be restarted. I am still practicing every day to stay free and keep my mind clear and open. But I am not longer denying it to do exactly that.
– L. Tahj Carter
“Free your mind and the rest will follow” – D.l Foster and T. McElroy
Today’s reflection on body image was contributed by Armani.
Body image to me has a very long rollercoaster history. Since before I started transitioning, I’ve ALWAYS been super slim, genetically, I’m predisposed to it but I grew up being picked on because of it. I never really had the platform to complain or even get the proper support whenever I tried to gain weight because in American society almost EVERYONE is having the OPPOSITE issue. People would tell me how much they envy my metabolism and size so I stopped talking about it out loud for a while.
Still, now at the age of 25, almost 3 years since my first T-shot and after getting engaged, I find myself staring in the mirror trying to make sure my elbows don’t stick out when I stretch my arms or my ribs don’t show when I hop out of the shower. It doesn’t help that I’m the skinniest guy my fiance has ever been with. I am always self-conscious of my body. BUT BUT BUT Right now, I’ve decided to learn how to love myself as I am while trying to IMPROVE my diet and physical activity. At this point, it’s not about how I LOOK to others; I’m more concerned about how I FEEL IN the body that I was given.
Today’s post comes to us from Charlene Arcila, a trans-identified female and Prevention Specialist in the Philadelphia, PA area.
I’m the visionary and founder, and served in the Chair position for the first Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference that was held for 1 day. Now it’s a 3-day conference. I also served as one of the Co-chairs in later years.
As for body image and sensual touch, I am just beginning to embark on these subjects as I am currently involved with an affirming male. I find that with sensual touch, it’s in the communication and foreplay that the true excitement begins to escalate.
When it comes to body imaging, it’s more mental to me than physical. A good friend of mine, Dr. Walter Bockting, did workshops on Renaming and Reclaiming Your Body. I have learned to rename my genitals to match the gender identity that I identify as, which is that of a woman of Trans-experience. It has made me able to enjoy my sexual pleasures as such.
– Charlene Arcila
Thanks to the generosity of our business sponsor, Ferris Wheels Bike Shop, and four very kind donors, BodyImage4Justice is raffling off this brand new bike at our event, BodyImage, Self Love and Movement: A Dinner to Build and Sculpt this Thursday evening, October 24, 2013. Raffle tickets are available at the door, and the winning ticket will be drawn at the end of the event. All event attendees are eligible to enter, and you must be present at the raffle drawing in order to win.
Raffle tickets will go on sale at the start of the event. Tickets are $5 each, 3 for $10, and 6 for $15. The bike is valued at $350-$400, and raffle proceeds will go to support BodyImage4Justice’s Gym Membership Fund, which provides memberships at Mike’s Fitness in Jamaica Plain, MA for low-income LGBTQ people in the Boston area.
Please come out and join us for this event, and enjoy an evening of movement workshops, dinner, and an informative presentation. Good luck to all raffle contest entrants, and thank you for your support!