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Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared my favorite body positive books, music, TV shows, and movies to help you find more stories that inspire. Diversifying the stories we tell about different kinds of bodies helps us feel less alone with our own body image issues. But not everyone is represented in even the most body positive media. One reader suggested stories about neurodiverse fat people and although I reached out to other body positive pop culture experts, I couldn’t find an example. To me, this means that there’s still room to grow when it comes to telling more stories about what it’s like to live in our bodies.
Although change is happening in the media industries, it has been a slow progression to include even the most basic body diversity. Debates continue to rage about casting decisions and tokenism. And it’s rare for a single artist, movie, or show to include a meaningful range of body sizes/shapes/configurations.
As a popular culture critic, it’s in my nature to point out what’s wrong with media. It’s much easier to criticize a lack than to find and promote the positive. I’ve tried to do that on my blog Taking Up Space, and my focus has shifted from simple critique to empowering others to create their own stories. In my last post for Wellness Wednesday, I’d like to encourage you to make your own media too!
Make no mistake–creating and promoting a project is no small undertaking. It takes sustained time and effort, and it’s possible that your creative interests and talents may not be in the artistic medium you’d most like to see represented (my complete lack of drawing talent, for example). But you do have the power to create. Here are some ways to be the change you want to see in the media landscape:
Do Your Thing
If you have the skill and the interest to create in your medium, go for it! Often, I think the idea of not producing on a professional or mainstream level keeps people from creating. But if the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that there’s no shortage of audiences. You don’t have to have a film produced by Netflix (although that would be nice!) to get film out into the world. Comic book ‘zines can be printed on printer paper and stapled with your Swingline at work. If there’s a creator, there’s a way.
Use the Buddy System
I have REALLY talented friends. I know graphic artists and musicians and illustrators and screenwriters and painters and actors. I’m sure you do too! Pay those smart, gorgeous people to bring your idea to life, or work together in a creative partnership on an idea you both want to see in the world. If you don’t know anyone yet, hop on Twitter and ask around for folks who want to collaborate on a project with you. Your next culture-shaking creation could be a friend of a friend away.
Expand Your Horizons
Here’s the biggest myth about creative people: their talent doesn’t make them better than you. Seriously. I see this played out all the time when people tell me they could never do what I do (write and sing, mostly!). I’d never downplay someone’s creative talent, but just because someone else is good at the thing you want to be good at doesn’t mean that you can’t develop skills like theirs. In fact, you can use that jealous feeling to point you in the direction of the art the world needs from you. Want to be a body positive stand up comedian? Start studying jokes. Go to an open mic night. Read about comedy theory. Whatever you want to do, you can Do the Thing!
If you’re struggling with creative confidence, remember that you’re not broken–body shame makes us believe that we’re not worthy of our dreams. And if you’re like me, you’re fighting many years of messages about creativity that’s reserved for other people. It may take some practice before you’re ready to embrace your power to create the stories you want to see represented. But trust me–it’s so worth it! Whether you’re a solo creator or working with a community, your voice matters. Your creativity matters. Your story matters.
You are the inspiration the world needs. It’s time to tell your story.