Category Archives: Body Positivity

Friday Funday Links


(Photo Credit: The New Yorker)

Forced sterilization within prisons still occurs in 2014 and it is a reproductive justice issue.

Campus activists working to make Occidental College a safer space are met with retaliation and intimidation. We stand in solidarity with the brave activists being targeted!

Middle school students in Illinois are protesting a school ban on leggings that unfairly sexualizes female students’ bodies.

An inspiring interview with Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox about her trans identity and activism

Women Justices champion reproductive rights in the Hobby Lobby supreme court case over birth control access

Anorexia and Bulimia are not just white women’s issues


Baby’s First Zine


Hi Real Life Athena readers!

My name is Rose, I’m currently a senior at Barnard College out in NYC, and I’m a new member of Real Life Athena! Today, I’m going to show you all the first (and so far, only) zine I have ever made.

Zines are awesome.  They’ve been around for as long as printing has been a thing and have been used historically by activists, feminists, anarchists, and all kinds of rad people to publish all kinds of rad ideas.  They’re all self-published and made without profit as the goal, and technically a zine shouldn’t have a circulation of more than a thousand copies.  Other than that, they’re all completely different! There are comic zines, political zines, fanzines, fiction zines… basically, anything you can think of, there’s a zine for. I’m currently using a zine as a source for a final paper for my class about anarchism and the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the New York City Feminist Zine Festival, which was a public event held at my school.  It was so amazing! I walked around the all the booths, talked with people selling their zines and went to a zine reading session where seven zinesters read aloud from their work.  Some of my favorites were Suzy X (who does The Best Song Ever comics for Rookie!), Annie Mok and Jenna Brager.

I left the festival armed with the zines I’d bought and feeling pretty inspired.  Then, I went on to spend the rest of the night making my own zine! I’m a huge comics nerd, so I took a comic-y route.  I also used the one-page set up (which you can see below) that I’ve used before for my own mini-comics.

tumblr_l8srhjyjkj1qz6f4bo1_500(Illustration by Beth Hetland)

This semester I’m doing a club-thing called CU FemSex, taken from the original Female Sexuality club at Berkeley.  Basically, it’s really awesome and I had to come to our meeting the next day with a Body Project, hence, my zine became my Body Project. I don’t usually go the personal route when I’m doing my artwork.  Usually, I’ll do little comic story lines or I’ll draw interesting looking people that I conjure up using my imagination, so doing a zine that was all reflections about my body was a little uncomfortable and scary.  Ultimately, though, it was pretty awesome and got me thinking it might be something I continue to do.  After all, I’ve been pretty inspired by a lot of comic artists that do personal narratives (Vanessa Davis, Lynda Barry and Alison Bechdel to name a few) and maybe it’s time that I try my hand at it.

Anyways, here’s my zine! Click on the images to see them bigger and go into the slideshow mode.

*Just a tiny note: when I say that I became body positive and also say that I didn’t shave my legs, I don’t mean it to seem like not shaving is the only way to be body positive.  I just personally don’t really like shaving and like my body hair. There’s no wrong way to be body positive!

**Barnard shout out: my school has an amazing zine library (and our own zine librarian!).  Our zine library collects zines by women (cis- and trans*) and with an emphasis on zines by women of color, about a myriad of feminist/activist/identity topics.  It’s pretty awesome.  Go here to learn more:

Body, Image, Mind

I wrote this last spring for a creative assignment on body image in a peer led group I was involved with. Although some of my outlooks have changed, much of this still resonates and thought I would share. 

When I hear the term “body image” I imagine Girl Scout Troop 2258. Cutting images out of magazines and my troop leaders empowering me to feel confident and beautiful.

So when I thought to what to write for this. I immediately went to physical beauty. I thought “well I don’t really like my fat face or I don’t like my bushy eyebrows.” But that’s not me being authentic because that’s not what occupies my mind.

My mind does occupy my mind but because of my life in my body.

My every day life occurrences are not me comparing my stomach to Lindsay Lohan’s. My every day occurrences are walking to the grocery store, making a stressful phone call, not speaking up at that meeting. Those are things I do in my body and ways I am seen in my body.

My body is in fact so wrapped up in my head and speech that I avoid the mirror. Sometimes I feel like I do not even know what I look like. I know my thoughts but I don’t know my appearance.

I appear in my body. I appear as a woman. And because of that appearance, I truly live in my body.

My body has judgement placed on it. My body is told it needs to be more vocal. My body is also told to stop talking. Talking is not sexy. My body is expected to give off a scent of affirmation and consent. It’s not that simple. For the mind and body I see as one.

My body is up against the world. Constantly up for negotiation, I am told others know my body better than me. I am told that smile was an invitation, maybe we should say “no” louder.

What experiences do I have in my body?

I’ve been told before that my “feminism has no place in this conversation.” That’s like telling me not to have feet for the day, that is the body I live in.

My experiences are molded by my body because we live in an interdependent world. A world where identity is a two-way street, how you place yourselves and where others place you.

I see myself but maybe more importantly in many ways you see me.

There’s a new Dove commercial, “you are more beautiful than you think.” I have no idea how I think of myself regarding my “beauty.” Am I suppose to know what I look like to a T? I’ve never understood the expression, “I know like the back of my hand.” I don’t look at the back of my hand that much, I’m too busy looking around. I’m too caught up in our world and the experiences of bodies, bodies like mine, bodies not like mine.

When I truly think of body image, it’s more than sexiness and beauty. It’s what I own, it’s what I know, it’s my every move.

Body Image is A Real Issue

When I was around 12 years old, I was visiting my dad’s side of the family in Baltimore. I really liked going there: for one it showed me a place where a different kind of body type was not only more present but was appreciated. My body has always been very different than other girls my age, and has always been something that other people have commented on – most of the time it wasn’t malicious, but still causes me to think of myself differently. And secondly, I loved Baltimore because of the endless amount of cable TV I could watch. My family in Minnesota went in and out of having cable, so I always saw thought it was a luxury.

But maybe my mom was right not to have cable, when I was visiting my Dad I didn’t really have friends down there or homework to do, so I spent a lot of my time watching daytime TV. I would watch VH1, MTV, BET, etc. But the one show that really stuck out to me was some show about America’s Sexiest 100 women; some model (I can’t even remember her name) attributed her staying fit to sprinkling spicy dried peppers over every meal to speed up her metabolism. I saw her body – large bust, smaller waste, curvy figure and so of course 12-year me really wanted to be like her. I had my dad go out and buy those crushed red peppers and ate them on every food that I ate.

I thought back to that the other day and thought it was hilarious… but then I got really sad. Like think about that, a 12-year old girl so obsessed of being what society tells her is pretty that she does something ridiculous like barely eating and whatever she does eat loaded it up with crushed red peppers.

It’s just really sad to know that our society is so driven by looking a certain way and being a certain person that we push these young girls into body image issues that accentuate their insecurities – when we could just as easily promote confidence not matter what and that we’re all different which makes us beautiful!

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Don’t Blame Me

I was staring at my closet and looking through all the clothes I have that I haven’t worn and I realized something that they’ve all had in common: I haven’t worn them out of fear I would be judged for them. The shorts are either “too” short, the shirts show “too” much cleavage or the swimsuits are “too” revealing. I get annoyed sometimes, especially during summer, because those are the clothes that I want to be wearing. Not because I want attention from the opposite sex, in fact that’s the last thing I want when I’m minding my own business walking through the neighborhood I live and work in.

This newfound confidence I have embraced has brought out a greater appreciation for my body, imperfections and all. With that appreciation I’ve tried push any doubts out of my mind that the people around me: friends, family and strangers, are judging me based on the clothes I’m wearing but that’s not the case. Everyday I have to deal with an encounter of receiving unwanted attention. When I express my feelings on this topic to some of my male friends, they tend to have a similar answer, “Maybe you should wear less provocative clothes,” in more or less words. With that response I’m filled with a number of feelings, one being embarrassment. I feel embarrassed because I complain about this negative attention when I could fix the problem easily by changing my wardrobe. Then I feel angry, how dare I be blamed for a person’s inability to respect another person’s body or their personal space? Then I feel sad, how could someone blame me for being victimized? To many this doesn’t seem all that serious but its victim blaming and it’s a very big problem.

When we focus our attention on how to make the victim less of a victim we lose touch on what really matters, how to make the predator less of a predator. I am not implying that people, women and men, shouldn’t be safe or take precautions when in danger, all I’m saying is that we cannot keep making these victims feel more shame for incidents out of their control. Being someone that has been a target of unwanted sexual attention, I constantly thought of things I could have done differently or ways I could have protected myself more. In turn making me feel like anything that has happened to me has been brought upon by my own actions. When in fact that’s not the case, the problem isn’t that I need to cover my body more or be more modest. The problem is that many men don’t respect women’s personal space and that is a huge issue.

Many of my lady friends have received unwanted attention at parties, on the street, at the store, checking their mail, at work, out to eat, and the list continues. Our society, our community and maybe even some of our friends have made us believe or at least question that some of the inappropriate attention we receive is partially our fault. When it’s not, we can’t make someone understand personal space. The problem is some men can’t accept the word, “No.” The problem is most men view these inappropriate gestures and comments as compliments and if women don’t accept them, then the woman was uptight, not that the action was wrong. How can wearing longer shorts change that?

This online rant was inspired by a conversation with a male friend I had the other day about how sometimes I feel really disrespected when I’m out and I get hollered at on the street or the guy at the bar was a little too touchy-feely. My friend did sympathize with me and knew that attention like that was unfair, but his recommendation was to wear sweatpants the next time I went out (I’m not kidding). And it made me sad because that’s not okay, I shouldn’t have to apologize or change the way I am in order to ensure a safe evening out. I felt voiceless because there was nothing that I could say to make my friend understand and the more he kept trying to get me to see where he was coming from the more offended I got.

The point of this was to encourage our community to really push the boundaries and really understand that street harassment and victim blaming is a serious issue to a lot of women I know and a lot of women in our community and something has to change. We can all rise above street harassment and victim blaming.

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