Love Your Body Day 2020: why celebrating your body matters

Love your body day 2020

The FashioNZ team celebrating Love Your Body Day. Image by James Yang.

Did you know that today is Love Your Body Day? It’s about celebrating love for your body and accepting it as it is and for all the amazing things it can do. For a long time we’ve all been programmed to aspire to the idealised version of beauty presented in magazines and pop culture. Trillions of dollars in advertising has been spent on trying to convince us that we need to look a certain way to be considered attractive and that we need various beauty products, exercise equipment and surgical procedures to do it.

The idea of loving yourself and your body for who you are has previously been a rebellious act, and in some ways it still is, in the face of continued marketing trying to make us feel bad about ourselves so we’ll buy a product to make us feel better. Thankfully things are slowly changing as more brands realise that it’s not okay to try and shame people into buying their products and we’re beginning to see more ‘real’ people in advertising representing the diversity that is all around us.

For us at FashioNZ, we actively promote body positivity and inclusivity, as much as we love beautiful clothes and a great moisturiser we’re not ever going to tell you that you need to be skinnier, more tan or prettier, and that you need to buy ‘this product’ to achieve that result. Instead, we focus on sharing the things we like that we think you might like too and telling the stories of lots of different people who we think will resonate with you.

So when we heard about Love Your Body Day we wanted to celebrate it with our team and discuss what loving our bodies means to us and what we’re most proud of doing with our bodies. To accompany our stories, our team spent an afternoon together photographing everyone in their favourite outfits in a true celebration of what celebrating our bodies means to us. Happy Love Your Body Day!

Anya Brighouse

Why do you feel a day to celebrate body love and acceptance is important?
As kiwis we aren’t very good at saying we have done well – we don’t like the whole “tall Poppy” thing. So I think to stand up (for one day of the year) and say “Yes, I really do like myself just the way I am” is a great idea.

What does loving your body mean to you?
Right now it feels like making sure I keep my body safe! And making sure I keep other people safe to. Washing hands, wearing masks, and social distancing are all proactive ways to do that. And don’t forget you record your QR Codes!

What are you most proud of doing with your body? 
My body/mind has carried me through Motherhood and for that I am profoundly grateful. I look at my four children (and my grand daughters) and some days I can’t quite believe how lucky I have been. All four have grown into amazing Adults – each very much their own person – and comfortable in their own skin.

What advice would you give to your younger self about your body and body image?
I often look back at photos of myself as a young woman and I see someone very different to the person that inhabited that body… I thought badly of myself and yet I look at my daughters now and how they look (how beautiful they are) and know they look like me, and the way I was. How terrible that I couldn’t see what I looked like then. (And how well my body functioned) I don’t feel that way anymore at all.

That’s why as a 54 year old woman, I dress very much for myself. I spent years worrying about what other people thought (of how I looked and how I dressed). I live in a quiet village up north of Auckland, but I still dress to please myself everyday. I have beautiful pieces of clothing that would work well at NZFW, but I wear them to walk the dog when there is no-one else to see me.

What would you say to thank your body for everything it’s done so far in your life?
I am immensely grateful for a body that likes holding babies, laughing with friends, swimming in the sea, wearing sneakers, being with family, is going ungracefully grey, and loves hugging. Thank you Body for all those lovely things!

Anya wasn’t able to join us for this shoot unfortunately but we still wanted to share her answers.

Love your body day 2020

Ava Wardecki-Locke

Why do you feel a day to celebrate body love and acceptance is important?
Bodies are talked about in so many ways — but they’re treated so much like commodities. I think it’s important to dedicate this space to having conversations with ourselves as to the relationship we have with our bodies. It’s also a great time to try dismantle many of the (unhelpful) messages we’ve had thrown around us all our lives.

And above all, to reflect on the amazing things our bodies have done for us and celebrate that.

What does loving your body mean to you?
It means listening to it. Accepting it. Removing an subconscious biases you might have within yourself about yourself. Not listening to the clutter of messages we get from so many directions that tell us how to interact with, use, design, adorn, and treat our bodies.

I think it’s developing a relationship where you understand your body, like you would a friend. It’s about understanding what makes it unique, what it needs and not seeing your body as something that’s a trend, or something that needs to be ‘improved’.

What are you most proud of doing with your body?
Galavanting on solo travels on multiple occasions. It’s taken me to see breathtaking countries, landscapes and environments and had me experience so many wonderful situations.

It’s also recovered from years of deep-set eating disorders and is able to embrace new habits and lifestyles while taking recovery in its stride, and for that I’m incredibly proud of my mind and body’s teamwork.

What advice would you give to your younger self about your body and body image?
Don’t get caught up in diet culture. Embrace the changes you’re going through. A healthy and resilient mind is worth far more, and will be such a more valuable asset, than what you think an ‘ideal’ body will be. Don’t get fixated on an idea of ‘perfection’ — you’ll spend years feeling woefully inadequate and missing out on wonderful moments.

Sometimes those closest to you — no matter how good their intentions may be — don’t always know what’s best for you and your body. Your body is unique, it should be embraced as such, and only you have autonomy and a say over it. And quite frankly, anyone who tries to make you think otherwise should be kindly shown the door.

What would you say to thank your body for everything it’s done so far in your life?
Thank you to my mind for giving me energy when my body couldn’t, and thank you body for giving me energy for when my mind was drained.

Thank you for being a receptor to emotions and feelings, so I can honour what I feel and take it in my stride as I evolve.

Thank you for being a place where I process inspiration and information, and nurture with a collection of new learnings I gather through life.

Thank you for taking me through wonderful explorations and experiences.

Thank you for being a blank canvas on which to express myself.

Love your body day 2020

Carolyn Ebrey

Why do you feel a day to celebrate body love and acceptance is important?
We’re not always taught to be compassionate and caring towards ourselves and as we only get one body to carry us through this life if we can’t accept and love what we’ve got we’re going to live a miserable life and life is way too short to be unhappy with something you can’t change.

What does loving your body mean to you?
Listening to what my body needs, working together with my body for physical freedom and also pushing the limits. We are all so much stronger and capable than we think we are!

What are you most proud of doing with your body?
Recovering from a spinal injury in 2011 that took 6 years to get out of chronic pain and trekking to Everest Base Camp in January this year.

What advice would you give to your younger self about your body and body image?
Be kind to yourself and talk to yourself like you would a friend, your body is not the enemy you are in this together.

What would you say to thank your body for everything it’s done so far in your life?
Thank you for all the adventures and I’m proud of how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved especially all the things you were told you would never do or never do again after your injury. You have kept one foot in front of the other and never gave up trying to have physical and mental freedom from your injury!

Love your body day 2020

Charlotte Lightbody

Why do you feel a day to celebrate body love and acceptance is important?
Because there is there still so much dislike for our own bodies out there. The widespread acceptance of our own bodies still isn’t as common as we would hope, so while it’s important we take small steps every day to celebrate body love and acceptance – one particular day is also super important to really hit the nail on the head for everyone.

What does loving your body mean to you?
It means having pure underlying, unconditional love for the glorious body you’re wandering around in, even on the days/weeks/months when you don’t like it so much (which is totally fine and normal). I think we get so caught up in having to be happy with our bodies every day, which is nonsense. Sometimes I don’t like my body or certain parts of it… but no matter what, I will always still love and respect it.

What are you most proud of doing with your body?
I’m proud of the fact that these shapely calf muscles and curvy bedroom thighs have walked all over the world experiencing different cultures and beauty.

What advice would you give to your younger self about your body and body image?
Everyone loves freckles and wants them baby Charlotte… stop covering them up in the horrendously thick foundation and know that in a few years time, you’ll be watching TikTok makeup tutorials of women drawing faux freckles on constantly.

What would you say to thank your body for everything it’s done so far in your life?
You are perfect in every single way.

Love your body day 2020

Evelyn Ebrey

Why do you feel a day to celebrate body love and acceptance is important?
It’s so important to love our bodies for what they are and all the amazing things they can do, accepting that we are all unique and the idea of an ‘ideal’ body is insane when we are all so different. Our differences are a wonderful thing and should be celebrated so having a day when we celebrate our bodies is fantastic, as we often take our bodies for granted and focus on the negative things.

What does loving your body mean to you?
Loving my body means trying to do what’s best for it, getting enough rest, eating things that are good for it and doing exercise that makes me happy like pilates, dancing and walking. It’s also about being grateful for everything my body can do and not being too hard on myself about the things I don’t like as much. I’m slowly learning to love it unconditionally the way I do my family and my partner, which isn’t easy after many years of wishing I could change things or focusing on my perceived flaws and not having an ‘ideal’ body.

What are you most proud of doing with your body?
My body has been on so many adventures in different countries with me, moving overseas by myself and traveling alone has given me an appreciation for what I can do on my own. Physically my body has performed on stages for thousands of people which was always exciting and has meant I’ve learned so many fun skills over the years. Dancing has always made me happy and every opportunity to dance makes me proud of what my body can do.

What advice would you give to your younger self about your body and body image?
You don’t need to try and look like the models in the magazines you love so much, your body is growing and changing and will take you so many places and do so many amazing things. Don’t punish your body because you think it’s not ‘enough’, feed it properly, rest when you’re tired and don’t take to heart what anyone else says about it. You are enough, just as you are, and you will go on to do things that will surprise you and make you realise how incredible your body actually is.

What would you say to thank your body for everything it’s done so far in your life?
Thank you for being the best home I could ask for and carrying on at times when I wasn’t sure I could. I’m sorry I punished you so many times when I was unhappy with you. It took me a long time to realise how brainwashed we are to chase an idealised version of beauty when we should be celebrating our differences and what makes us unique.

Love your body day 2020

Linda Harris

Why do you feel a day to celebrate body love and acceptance is important?
In all honesty I haven’t been feeling very body confident lately, so ‘Love your Body’ day acts as a really good reminder for me to appreciate all the ways in which my body serves me.

What does loving your body mean to you?
Being thankful that I’m in good health.

What are you most proud of doing with your body?
Giving birth to my two beautiful, healthy little rascals and recovering fairly well after.

What advice would you give to your younger self about your body and body image?
I need young me (and current me) to know that media-created standards for beauty are unobtainable and ridiculous. It’s funny too, as I am very aware of how I speak in front of my young daughter, we talk about being active and strong, I never speak about feeling fat or looking bad in photos or lament about my jiggly bits or stretch marks, so I should really practice what I preach.

What would you say to thank your body for everything it’s done so far in your life?
Thanks for all that you do and I’m sorry I have negative thoughts about you – I’m working on it!

Love your body day 2020

Lyle Adams

Why do you feel a day to celebrate body love and acceptance is important?
It will serve as a reminder to those who might feel self conscious of their bodies, that it is ok to love your body the way it is, as it is and in the position you are in life. If you want to change the physical things which are in your control, it is possible. As for the unchangeable, we are all unique, we are given what we have, the sooner we accept that the sooner we can move on and live life with a smile and positivity. As with many “days of celebrations”, it’s a day for reflection, awareness and thought.

What does loving your body mean to you?
Being able to do things that require fitness, ability and strength. Being able to challenge your own fears and mental hurdles with mental strength.

What are you most proud of doing with your body?
I spent 8+ years of my life playing Football (Soccer) and Break Dancing which I unfortunately no longer do, but would love to get back into. In recent years I’ve been embarking on a mental battle to add “Artist” to my job title and it’s been a journey that’s taken a huge amount of mental strength to achieve and overcome.

What advice would you give to your younger self about your body and body image?
Younger could be a week ago. A week ago I didn’t want my picture taken because of my self consciousness over my body and where I want it to be. I could give advice but that would mean following it to some extent.

What would you say to thank your body for everything it’s done so far in your life?
I would thank my body for giving me the ability to play soccer and break dance and end up in some creative/entertainment circles with some talented people I never thought I would meet. If it wasn’t for the physical strength and the mental strength in terms of pushing boundaries in my photography and art, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have achieved to date. It’s important to reflect sometimes on how far we have come in life to appreciate what we have.

Love your body day 2020

Meagan Kerr

Why do you feel a day to celebrate body love and acceptance is important?
There are a lot of negative body influences out there, we are bombarded with them every day. I think that having a day that reminds us to stop and acknowledge and appreciate our bodies is important. Sometimes I feel like I need to take a moment to consciously stop and assess how I’m feeling about my body and what my body needs, so a day to stop and take stock is a great opportunity to do that.

What does loving your body mean to you?
Treating myself with kindness and compassion regardless of what my body looks like, my age or ability. Appreciating what my body does for me. Not being critical of my body or comparing it to others.

What are you most proud of doing with your body?
This was actually a really hard question for me to answer. There are a lot of things I’ve done, but as someone who has battled bipolar disorder, PTSD and anxiety for more than half my life, I’m most proud that I’m still here. Caring for my mental health is a crucial part of loving my body and taking care of myself.

What advice would you give to your younger self about your body and body image?
Don’t get wrapped up in the idea of what other people think your body should look like. There is no one right way to have a body, and you don’t need to change the way you look to make yourself more “acceptable” or “beautiful” to others.

What would you say to thank your body for everything it’s done so far in your life?
Thank you for carrying me even when I didn’t appreciate you.

Love your body day 2020

Vlad Tichen

Why do you feel a day to celebrate body love and acceptance is important?
My body is so important to me that I’d love to be celebrating it every single day, to be honest. But I’ve got other things to do. Important things. Like watching Netflix. So yeah, one day only. But a full-on one, you know – like sleeping on rose petals and having a 5-hour massage kinda day.

What does loving your body mean to you?
It means accepting it, caring for it, treating it with respect.

What are you most proud of doing with your body? 
I’m proud of being able to train it so well that now I’m able to survive a zombie apocalypse.

What advice would you give to your younger self about your body and body image?
To my 6-year-old self: Don’t jump from this tree to that gazebo! (plus one fractured ankle)
To my 12-year-old self: Don’t sign up to be a goalkeeper where they play football with a basketball. (plus one broken arm)
To 19-year-old self: Stop checking out that girl smiling at you and watch where you’re going! (plus another broken arm)
To my 22-year-old: Relax, buddy. Eat a doughnut. Your older self will fix everything.

What would you say to thank your body for everything it’s done so far in your life?
Dear body,
You’ve done so well. I wouldn’t be able to do it without you.
Now back to work please!

Images by James Yang.

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