IAMLEYAHSHANKS

I run a self-love movement for ALL humans called #TBCR. Activist for body positivity. Mental illness survivor and advocate from bonnie Scotland! BA Digital Media student

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Denim is a trend. Body positivity is not.

Body positivity

BitchesUnite

REEK Perfume

Body positivity has had an astronomical increase in popularity in recent months. Even if it’s not something you follow closely, there are probably figures from the movement that you’d recognise because of the amount of mainstream coverage it’s gotten. It’s been covered by outlets with huge audiences, showcasing the work of amazing people and subsections of the movement who are preaching the message of self-love. Even publicly calling out body-shaming by other companies, celebs and news outlets. Obviously, this is incredible. It’s something that I personally have been waiting to happen ever since I started The Body Confidence Revolution four years ago. But I also can’t help but worry that instead of becoming a permanent topic of conversation that leads to real change, it’s going to become a trend. That will eventually fade out and be replaced by another. I worry that it has already become a trend.

I regularly talk about the immense power that social media has. It’s awe-inspiring but also pretty intimidating and scary. So many companies use its influence to spread messages of negativity in order to further their money-making agendas. Remember the thigh-gap trend? Without social media, that wouldn’t have been seen by so many. So, to see its capacity being utilised in overtly positive ways by people like Bodyposipanda for example is genuinely heartwarming. There are countless numbers of us who are fed up of the nonsense we are drip-fed on a daily basis, to the point where more and more of us are using our voices and taking to social media to challenge it. That’s a brave and frankly awesome thing to do. And I hope it continues to grow. But it doesn’t come without its drawbacks. Mainly money making ones.

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The collective following of the “main figures” within the body positive community online is staggering. Easily well over one million. On Instagram alone. And they’re collaborating with brands who have a genuine, heartfelt interest in body positive advertising. HOLLA AT YA, CURVY KATE. Which I don’t need to praise, it’s pretty blatantly badass. But what isn’t, is jumping on the bandwagon in order to generate views, likes, comments and profit. Many self-love influencers have publicly talked about being approached by companies who evidently have no real interest in the meaning of the movement; but want to leech off of the fact that body positivity is on everyone’s lips at the moment. Not. Cool.

Brands need to stop seeing bopo as being a way to make more money. To generate more publicity. And in some cases, even outright lie to their customers and viewers. It is not a hook. It is not a fad. It is something that in 2017, should already be being fully embraced by each and every clothing brand and mainstream media company out there in my opinion. It is not something for you to jump on the back of in order to further an agenda that is entirely different from what we are actually trying to achieve here. If you see it, call it out! If we don’t keep shouting at the top of our lungs, how will they know we’re onto them?

 

Denim is a trend. Body positivity is NOT.

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Why Tattoos are Body Positive

tattoos body positive

All my life I’ve adored tattoos. The creativity. The self-expression. The artistry and skill that goes into designing and etching them into the skin. But as a young person, I would never have had the confidence to be covered in as much artwork as I’d like.

I was bullied through the whole of my childhood. All of the different aspects of my being were relentlessly picked apart and tortured. Every. Single. Day. I’d lie awake at night fearful of the day ahead and feign illness every morning to try and escape for a while. I was the weird, fat, stupid kid. Who had no friends and was the butt of all the jokes. I would do literally anything to avoid bringing attention to myself. I’d have walked to the ends of the earth if it meant becoming invisible. Fast forward to the age of 18, after going through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Clinical Depression, it emerged that I had begun to develop said illness at the tender age of 6. When I was in Primary 1. Being bullied was a direct contributor.

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Discovering that I had never known a life without depression shook me hard. When I started to unearth the roots of where my bullying, illness and lack of self-confidence came from I was shaken once again. Slowly but surely, through research and the creation of The Body Confidence Revolution, my self-esteem began to grow. Just like the fire in my belly. I finally felt like I was becoming the person I used to be and nothing and no-one would stop from expressing that in my own way.

If you’d asked me a few years ago just to even take a picture that insinuated that I liked my stomach, I would’ve given you a quizzical look whilst feeling internally queezy. And that’s without even acknowledging the make-up free face and the fact that I’ve gained a fair bit of weight recently. . . . This crippling and wholly unnecessary self hatred is the whole reason that I started #TBCR. It has helped me to overcome my own insecurities and learn more about why the existed in the first place. . . . Although I have setbacks (WHICH ARE PERFECTLY NORMAL AND ***OK***, BTW), I am so proud of how far both I and #TBCR have come. And I’m excited to see how much more we can grow in the coming days. . . . Please, always remember that life is a journey. Happiness too is a journey. One that varies in duration and intensity for everyone. Your body is the vessel which carries you through the journies life takes you on. Just think about the irony in the fact that you’ve been taught to hate it is. And stand strong with #TBCR in giving a middle finger to the industries which profit from our insecurity. . . . LOVE YOUR TUMMY. LOVE EVERY. SINGLE. BIT OF YOU! . . . #bodyposi #bodypos #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bopo #bodyimage #positivebodyimage #loveyourbody #bodyconfidence #bodylove #effyourbeautystandards #beautybeyondsize #beautyhasnolimit #yourbodyisamazing #bopo #allwomenarerealwomen #nowrongway #nowrongwaytobeawoman #selfesteem #selfworth #selflove #bodyacceptance #nobodyshame #honormycurves #bopowarrior #healthymindhealthybody #embracethesquish #body4me

A photo posted by 🌈THEBODYCONFIDENCEREVOLUTION🌈 (@iamleyahshanks) on

Now, at almost 24, I have quite a few tattoos. Some of which are large and in visible places. I’m so proud of myself for fulfilling my aspirations for my own body. It’s not a privilege that is afforded to many, even nowadays. And I intend to have my arms fully covered. Who am I kidding… most of my skin will probably end up laced with them. Although I completely understand that tattoos are not to everyone’s taste, I don’t quite get it when it’s claimed that they’re not body positive. What better canvas for beautiful art than an equally, uniquely beautiful human body?

I for one will wear my ink proudly for the rest of my days (yes, even when I’m old!) – whilst respecting the bodies of others – as an ode to my younger self, if nothing else.

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