A Body Love Revolution

March 19, 2014 |
Jes Baker is the force behind The Body Love Conference. photo: Liora K Photography

Jes Baker is the force behind The Body Love Conference.
photo: Liora K Photography

“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.” – Simone De Beauvoir

Jes Baker is fierce and she is fantastic. She also happens to have a plus-sized body. In our physical perfection-obsessed American culture, fat and attractive are incongruent. We are bombarded with thousands of negative body images from the television, magazines and social media. It’s no wonder that 91 percent of American women are unhappy with their bodies. In reality, a mere five percent of American women possess the body type portrayed by the mainstream media as ideal. What’s more is that these images of so-called “perfect bodies” are very often digitally enhanced to create an even more impossible to attain and unrealistic standard of beauty.

Why? Well, it keeps us chasing perfection and spending our money to achieve unattainable goals. The real cost to society are the social ills created in great part by marketing the concept of perfection. Low self-esteem, eating disorders, depression and suicidal tendencies all have a causal link to being triggered by the negative body marketing schemes that constantly tell us that we are ugly and unlovable if we fail to meet these impossible standards of beauty.

What began as Baker’s intelligent retort, in May 2013, to Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries’ insensitive, derisive comments about fat people not belonging in his clothing line became the spark that ignited a revolution. Jes Baker’s revolution is one of celebration: The celebration of women’s bodies for the miraculous and perfect creations that they are, just as they are. It is a revolution that promotes self-love and acceptance in spite of the cultural obsession with physical perfection. A happier and healthier society is the goal of this revolution.

Acclaimed blogger and Tucsonan Jes Baker (aka The Militant Baker), did not anticipate such an overwhelming positive response when she penned her open letter to Jeffries and included a series of edgy, provocative photos similar to the racy Abercrombie and Fitch ad campaigns. Baker wanted to prove—by posing with a slender, chiseled, male model—that fat and attractive need not be mutually exclusive when, in fact, it could be beautiful, lush and sensual. When the photos went over-the-top viral, Baker was thrilled. After NBC’s TODAY show and other mainstream talk shows called, Baker knew what she had to do.

Baker is initiating history-making change locally in the form of The Body Love Conference; a conference that is extending the important conversation about self-love and self-acceptance to the Tucson community. This high energy, day-long event for women features 30 speakers along with workshops promoting and celebrating body love. Among the many highly relevant and exciting topics to be covered are: How to teach body positivity to your children, loving your body after sexual assault, how to transcend ageism, intimacy and self-acceptance, transgender body positivism and disability and sexuality.

Being held on Saturday, April 5 at the University of Arizona, a sampling of the featured presenters includes: Tess Munster, an international plus size model and blogger of EffYourBeautyStandards; Tucson photographer Jade Beall of A Beautiful Body Project and Sonya Renee Taylor, activist and author of The Body is Not An Apology

Baker is, of course, also a presenter, discussing the history of how and why we’ve learned to hate ourselves. “Hatred is learned and can only be conquered by love and education,” says Baker.

Jade Beall, a Tucson based world-renown photographer specializing in truthful images of women has collaborated with Baker in the creation of the The Body Love Conference. Beall’s recent work, A Beautiful Body Project, was created to counter the airbrushed, “Photoshopped” and unrealistic images championed by mainstream marketing campaigns, and to celebrate the beauty of women just as they are. Beall’s book series and media platform feature un-retouched photos of women accompanied by their life stories and have garnered worldwide media attention. The images in this intimate project are candid, raw, and as uniquely beautiful as the subjects themselves. Beall’s intention for her important project is to inspire future generations of women to have healthy self-esteem and self-acceptance in a world that preys upon and thrives monetarily from the insecurities of women.

Both Baker and Beall agree that every body is a beautiful body and that it is time that we celebrate them as such. Join the body love revolution and help change the world, not your body.

The conference takes place at the UofA Student Union’s third floor ballroom, 1303 E University Blvd., from 8:30a.m.-5 p.m. on April 5. Tickets are $80. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit BodyLoveConference.com.

Category: Community, DOWNTOWN / UNIVERSITY / 4TH AVE, Events, Living