“Dream on it. Let your mind take you places you would like to go, and then think about it and plan it and celebrate possibilities. And don’t listen to anyone who doesn’t know how to dream.” — Liza Minnelli
From traditional holidays, such as Thanksgiving, to more obscure commemorations, like National Ninja Day, Americans seem to have no shortage of celebrations. While I’m a fan of holidays, I once had serious gripes about a biggie: Valentine’s Day. Do we really need an annual 24-hour period designated for celebrating love? For years, I saw more cheesiness and commercialism than romance in all things red and pink. That changed February 14th six years ago when I accepted a friend’s invite to a concert. Our friendship took an unexpected romantic turn that night, and two years later we wed.
While I still don’t believe in limiting love celebrations to once per year, that night and all that’s followed taught me that holidays are what we make them and any excuse to celebrate love is a beautiful thing.
We shouldn’t need a Love Your Body Day to celebrate and embrace our bodies, but given that 80% of women are dissatisfied with their appearance, according to the National Organization for Women, such a day isn’t merely practical, but vital. Those of us who’ve worked hard to overcome body dislike and disordered eating can benefit by celebrating our recovery and speaking out against negative influences in our daily lives and culture. For those currently struggling with an eating disorder, commemorating the day just might spur necessary, worthy recovery.
Pauline Campos knows the importance of such issues well. The founder of Girl Body Pride, advice columnist for Latina Magazine and advice radio personality on NPR’s Latino USA has turned her personal battle with bulimia into fuel for her life’s work, promoting much needed messages to girls and those who love them.
She sat down with me virtually this week to discuss Love Your Body Day—a campaign that challenges the notion that a woman's value is best assessed by her willingness and ability to embody societal beauty standards. The 15th annual celebration will take place on Wednesday, October 16th.
August: Why are body image issues so important to you personally?
Pauline: I remember hiding in my parents' food pantry as young as six to eat my feelings away. I had no idea it was binging. I didn't even know it was a word or what an eating disorder was. It slowly progressed from there and by the time I was 15, I was a full-blown bulimic. It took years of destroying myself to hit bottom and work on pushing myself back to the top. My website, Girl Body Pride, stemmed from the desire to break the cycle before my daughter was handed a ready-made package of Mommy's Issues to internalize and carry on. I might not be doing it all right, but I'm trying. For her, I always will.
August: Why do you feel a day to celebrate body love and acceptance is important?
Pauline: For me, it has to be an every day exercise in reprogramming my brain. I'm a lifelong recovering bulimic and while I'm in a good place mentally, there are and always will be remnants of the mindset that led to bulimia to begin with that I have to deal with. I'm thrilled to see positive steps in helping all women recognize the beauty in their bodies just as they are. Just like Christmas isn't just a day but a season about giving and joy, Love Your Body Day is just one part of a whole. And that's important.
August: What does loving your body mean to you?
Pauline: Loving my body means loving me as I am and recognizing that there will be good days, bad days and days that I just don't care. We're only human and anyone who says everyday is a good one is selling something. That being said, every day IS a day to keep trying and reminding myself that no matter what I see, my daughter and my husband see someone they love. I'm not a number. My self-worth is not based on my pants size. As long as I can keep that in check, I'm set.
August: Any tips for celebrating Love Your Body Day?
Pauline: Drop the word DIET unless you are referring to what your hamster is allowed to eat.
Pledge to rephrase all negative self-talk (internally and verbally) to positive statements. For example, “That has too many calories” becomes “I choose food to nurture my body.”
Remember that our kids see and hear everything we say and do. Even if you don't love your body, put on your big girl panties and pretend to love it anyway. Your motivation is your child and the knowledge that your actions are the foundation from which they will learn how to see their own reflections one day.
Write a sentence about something you hate about your body. Turn it around by writing two on why you are more than that and deserve to love your body just the way it is.
Put on some red lipstick, or your favorite shoes. Hell, grab a tiara and wear the damned thing all day! The point is, whatever makes you feel good about yourself, do it.
Smile at your reflection.
To learn more about Love Your Body Day, visit loveyourbody.nowfoundation.org. To tell us how you plan to celebrate the day, tweet us! We’d love to hear from you. @NEDAstaff @AugstMcLaughlin @Pauline_Campos