How A Feminist Found Body Positivity At An Art Museum

How A Feminist Found Body Positivity At An Art Museum

Who said museums weren't educational?
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Last week I had a lovely visit to the Worcester Art Museum (What a FABULOUS cultural gem hidden in the mid-sized city of Worcester, MA. GO VISIT!!) They have a wide range of art from Pre-Colombian statues from Peru to Modern 20th century art. While I was there, I was struck by the often body positive, diverse representation of the female body in many of the pieces of art. I wrote this letter to those painted, sculpted figures who made a difference in this feminist's life.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

Dear Friends,

We've never conversed but I feel as we had a brief connection together. It may have been a bit one-sided, as you are inanimate figures created long ago, but I will be forever thankful for you.

To all the sorrowful Virgin Marys, clutching her Son in the knowledge of his foretold death, your tragic eyes proved to me that it's okay to grieve and not always have to plaster a smile on your face.

To the standing woman in Renoir's "Jewish Wedding", who isn't afraid to dance joyfully when others are seated.

To the woman in the blue dress, who knows her limits and takes a moment to self-care on a dreary day.

To all the Renaissance nudes and Indian goddess figures with their rounded bellies and thighs that I've never seen on a movie screen or mannequin and to their painters who immortalized their fuller version of beauty for thin-obsessed posterity.

To Winslow Homer's woman in "The Gale" who bravely stares into the storm as she carries her baby home to safety. You show a different side to motherhood than the frustratingly passive, inactive mother figure that dominates literature and TV shows.

To the paintings of Saint Catherine as you bravely face the torture of a spiked wheel, thank you for reminding me that faith is not for the fainthearted.

To the numerous breastfeeding figures, normalizing a nurturing behavior deemed publicly unseemly in our society.

To the brooding strong woman of color and to her painter Paul Gauguin who didn't visually fetishize her.

To the woman painted as artists in their own right with brushes or portfolios in hand, you inspire so many young women like myself to follow our artistic dreams even if we've been historically left out of the canon.

To the woman with her cat, who didn't let frizzy hair or a double-chin detract from her beauty.

To the figures of protest and defiance in the special citizenship exhibit, thanks for inspiring me to be a more active intersectional feminist ally. From the photographs of civil rights marchers in the 1960s to the Occupy poster reminding everyone of the intersection of class and feminine identity, your actions have been immortalized through a camera's shutter or a artist's hand.

Sincerely,

A Feminist Museum-Goer

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia © Worcester Art Museum

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Bigger Bodies Are Not Unhealthier Bodies

Got nothing nice to say? Then don't say anything at all.

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Okay, believe it or not, people have rolls. People have fat. People wear jean sizes in the double digits, and plus sized dresses exist.

Fat people exist. And their existence isn't disgusting, so it's time to stop treating them like they're gross and unworthy of feeling confident.

I don't know HOW many times I've seen social media shame fat people just for posting photos of themselves. A plus-sized woman could put a pic of herself in a bikini on the gram and is made fun of for having cellulite and stretch marks. People comment things like, "stop encouraging people to be unhealthy!"

Since when does posting a photo of yourself hanging out on the beach encourage people to be unhealthy? Are fat people not allowed to feel confident, or what?

It's honestly disgusting how vicious fat shaming is, and how the usage of social media makes fat phobia that much more widespread. What's truly saddening is that despite so many body-positive movements, these movements still lack the support for actual plus sized bodies.

I'm not talking about skinny models hunched over so you can see their slight belly rolls. I'm talking about women with thick thighs and stomachs that are far from flat. Brands claim to be inclusive but the plus-sized models they use could still fit into size 2 and 4 dresses.

Why is it so hard to embrace bigger bodies??

To many, the thought of calling an anorexic girl a skeleton and making fun of the lack of food she eats is beyond absurd. Yet, many people don't bat an eye when a fat girl is called a whale. People stare at her when she eats a burger but never mind the skinny girl bragging about eating an entire pizza on her own. It's quirky and cute, right? Wrong.

If people feel obliged to call fat bodies unhealthy for being too fat, where is the obligation to also call out skinny bodies for being too skinny?

I am 5'3" and this past September I weighed nearly 140 pounds. I was overweight but healthy. I am now 116 pounds, I have an eating disorder, low blood sugar, and severely low blood pressure. I am not healthy.

Your weight does not determine your health.

Stop judging people because of the bodies they are in. Just because you're skinny doesn't mean you're healthy.

A skinny woman might be able to drink a whole bottle of wine and eat an entire pizza to herself. She might be able to keep off the weight without working out. She might not like drinking water and opt for iced coffee. And she's deemed healthy.

Whereas the fat woman tries her best to eat balanced every day. She doesn't have a fast metabolism, but she loves sweating her ass off doing yoga. She adds fruit to her water daily, but she's the one that isn't healthy because she's bigger?

Ridiculous.

Stop fat shaming people. Let fat people exist in peace. Let them pose in photos and feel confident in their skin. Let them eat junk food when they want without judging them. Don't laugh at them in the gym.

Stop assuming that bigger bodies are not healthy bodies. The bigger me was the healthy me and the skinny me is not, but nobody would be able to tell that just by looking at me.

Mind your own business. Stop judging people. Stop reducing people's worth to the social stigmas of their physical bodies.

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