Written by: Shewonda Leger
Primary Source: Writing Rhetoric and American Cultures
Stop apologizing, start accepting, embrace your beauty, and take part in the movement. This past summer (2013), two grad students, Katie Manthey and Rachel Seiderman, had the opportunity to experience an internship, and became part of an important movement known as, The Body Is Not An Apology (TBINAA). This is an online activist organization founded by Sonya Taylor. The Body Is Not An Apology is a GLOBAL movement focused on radical self-love and body empowerment. This movement encourages women to own their beauty, love their scars, and accept their appearance no matter shape, size or color. As women we need to stop being beholden to the beauty that society has labeled acceptable, and live comfortably with what we are blessed with.
On February 9, 2011, Sonya wrote a Facebook status following a picture of herself in a black corset. She posted this picture to make it clear that she defines what’s sexy.“In this picture I am 230lbs. In this picture, I have stretch marks and an unfortunate decision in the shape of a melting Hershey’s kiss on my left thigh. I am smiling, like a woman who knows you’re watching and likes it. For this one camera flash, I am unashamed, unapologetic.” This was the status that started the movement, ever since many women have taken part of the movement in various ways, such as posting pictures, writing statuses, and even interning to demonstrate that they are living unapologetically.
Katie Manthey, a 4th year PhD student in Rhetoric and Writing with a concentration in cultural rhetorics, chose this summer internship, because she wanted an opportunity to make a difference. Katie stated that she had been a Facebook follower of TBINAA for awhile, and had been presenting on feminist issues around the body at conferences, and was excited about the opportunity to write for a mainstream audience. As content intern, one of Katie’s responsibilities were to provide two weeks of blog posts. Her blogs had to be original, and related to the theme of the week. When writing these pieces she had a specific audience to consider, which were Tumblr and Facebook.
Rachel Seiderman, a 2nd year MA student in Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing with a concentration in fat activism/acceptance, discovered TBINAA through a spoken word poem on YouTube. Moved by Sonya’s piece, Rachel started following TBINAA on Facebook, and when the call for interns was posted, she knew it was the perfect summer internship. Rachel also held the title content intern, but her duties were slightly different from Katie’s. She was responsible for generating original content for TBINAA’s Tumblr, making suggestions for reblogs, and also providing images to be posted on the Facebook page.
Katie Shares Her Work:
The picture to the left shows Katie promoting “Bad Picture Monday.” That week she had to provide blog posts that focused on the power of images. By using her own “bad picture,” Katie gained credibility with her audience. She wasn’t afraid of taking the “Bad Picture Monday Challenge.” She started a trend on Tumblr and asked the audience the following questions: What makes a picture bad? Does your perception of the “bad” picture change after sharing it for a day?If you haven’t had a chance to read some of Katie’s content, here’s a couple: – When the Body You See is Not Your Own: My Body Gallery – Snakeskin: Shedding the Shame of Weight Gain (Katie’s favorite piece)
Rachel Shares Her Work:
One of Rachel’s blog posts focused on empowering one type of body. Entitled “The Body Positivity Paradox: Shaming the Thin Body,” this blog talked about how in order for one to build value for his or her self they have to devalue someone else. For instance, the media labels certain types of body images (models) as beautiful and those that don’t match the criteria are not as beautiful. Another interesting blog post by Rachel is, “Who Should Be Considered An Authority On What’s Oppressive?” This blog post responds to the image below. The image is about fighting back against the further writing of people who are already underprivileged, and are put down by those society has given power.
Both Katie and Rachel gained and learned from this internship experience. Katie mentioned that, “Being involved in such a radical movement was really empowering for me, and I’m definitely better-educated on a lot of social justice issues than I was before.” Rachel shared that, “she learned about audience engagement and expectations, as well as effective management style.”
The Body Is Not An Apology is a movement that delivers a message that everyone can relate to. Katie and Rachel chose to get involved in a radical movement through interning, and are still part of the Unapologetically Movement today. What radical movement will you take part of this summer? I challenge you to go out and LIVE UNAPOLOGETICALLY.