A while back I stumbled across DNCE’s music video for their hit song, “Toothbrush." DNCE has been blowing up lately for their catchy songs, interesting lyrics, and definitely their already-famous lead singer, Joe Jonas. However, after watching their music video I was awestruck by their approach. It has stuck in my mind ever since I watched it. Then, when I read an essay by Alice Walker, author of the movie-adapted and broadway-adapted novel "The Color Purple," I was too inspired by two different forms of body positivity to not put my own two cents into the world about the universal movement and these amazing contributions.
For those of you who have not seen DNCE’s music video (even though I conveniently put the link above and really suggest you check it out), it stars Joe Jonas, one of four members of the band, and extremely famous plus sized model, Ashley Graham. The reason I became so awestruck with their music video which, to be honest, doesn’t really stand out when examining the cinematography and artistic content, relates to their promotion for its release. Specifically, their lack of explanation in regards to their choice for a leading lady. There are little to no articles or statements released by DNCE or Ashley Graham “defending” her role in the music video. This is why I felt inspired.
The Body Positive Movement (also linked above) was created in 1996. It began by advertising self-love and still does that to this day. Not to say that isn’t noble, because it definitely is; but, sometimes I feel like they go about it in a way that isn’t nearly as effective as what DNCE successfully did. Sometimes, when plus sized models get recognized, or big corporations advertise their products using various different body types, or simply someone with a body type that doesn’t fall into modern beauty standard categories posts a happy photo on Instagram, there is too much hype. Too many people applauding these people for being “so confident” or for being “crusaders” in this fight for body positivity. But I have always wondered, why do these people have to be confident to love themselves or to love others? Why are we defending our choices to represent the true majority of people who don’t fall into those categories we have so long defined as “beautiful”?
Click on the picture below to watch Amy Schumer's hilarious thoughts on being called "brave" after a naked photo from her Annie Leibowitz photo shoot goes viral on her Instagram. Her comments take place starting at 2:43 and end at 3:06 during her 2016 MVP award acceptance speech at the Critics' Choice Awards.
This weekend I was assigned a reading titled: “Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self” by Alice Walker (feel free to read the essay by clicking on the title). Written in 1983, it chronicles the life of a little girl (Alice Walker) in the first half of the twentieth century as she deals with an accident that makes her partially blind. It also left her permanently scarred in her right eye, which completely alters her perception of herself and her beauty. It’s not until her three-year-old daughter notices her eye and its cloudy appearance for the first time that she feels the true power of self-defined beauty. Her daughter says to her, “‘Mommy, there’s a world in your eye.’” Walker wrote this essay in 1983. This line empowered me like nothing else ever has; it was a moment of clarity. Beauty revolves around perception; particularly self-perception. We can preach, yell and promote how everyone should love themselves and how they come into this world. But, at the end of the day, it all boils down to each person’s self-perception. Walker ends the essay with an image of her right after hearing the words of her three-year-old daughter. “That night I dream I am dancing to Stevie Wonder's song ‘Always’ (the name of the song is really ‘As,’ but I hear it as ‘Always’). As I dance, whirling and joyous, happier than I've ever been in my life, another bright-faced dancer joins me. We dance and kiss each other and hold each other through the night. The other dancer has obviously come through all right, as I have done. She is beautiful, whole, and free. And she is also me.”
How do we change how we think? How do we alter our mentalities about what is “normal” or what is “beauty”? We do so unapologetically, without defense, without explanation. The more young girls and boys that see confident role models without a PR statement accompanying how “brave” these role models are, the more they start to see the beauty in diversity; the more they see the beauty in themselves. This goes beyond the body positive movement… this is the heart and core of changing how future generations think. Isn’t that how we change the world?