Proud2Bme | An Interview With Jes Baker: Why it’s Important to #LoveTheMirror

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An Interview With Jes Baker: Why it’s Important to #LoveTheMirror

By Rachael Hershon--Today, I had the honor of interviewing one of my Body Positive heroes, Jes Baker.  Jes Baker is the brains behind the popular Body Positivity blog, The Militant Baker, where she writes about feminism, mental health, body advocacy, and self-love with nothing but absolute honesty.  This year, Jes urges her readers to make a life-changing resolution: to love the mirror. 

How did your journey up to this point start? What does your journey look like now?

It started when I was reading blogs. I was really into lifestyle blogs, but there was this woman who had a blog called The Nearsighted Owl who was into all the things that I liked. She was also really fat, but really happy and confident. I kept going back and reading, and essentially I started to realize that if she could do it, I could do it.  I really committed myself to not hating myself. I wanted to write about the hard things too, which is something that many of these blogs don’t show.  It’s really grown into something amazing.

What prompted you to start #LoveTheMirror? Why do you believe the #LoveTheMirror campaign is important?

There’s a lot of conversation around beauty, and I read a really amazing article in Bitch magazine the other day written by Lindsey King-Miller.  The whole thing is about how we focus so much on beauty, and how it can be detrimental to the body positive movement. She said, “While I’m in favor of encouraging women to be confident I worry that today’s body positivity focuses too much on affirming beauty and not enough on deconstructing its necessity. Spreading a message that everyone is beautiful reinforces the underlying assumption that beauty matters.”

It’s a really amazing article. It seems counterintuitive to love the mirror, which is interesting.  People of all genders, women in particular, are constantly told that their value lies in their appearance.  The thing is, we do a disservice to the body by ignoring it.  We have to acknowledge the role that our body plays.  Loving the mirror can be a lot of different things for a lot of different people.  People love their bodies for different reasons. For me, it is important to feel sexy and to feel that my outer appearance is my version of attractive, which is alternative to a lot of people.  We’re humans who love to be seen, but the other side of that is that we need to realize that our bodies are more than what they look like. 

What advice do you have for those who want to begin this journey towards self-acceptance and loving the mirror?

I think the simplest thing for someone to do would be to diversify their media feed. The reason I say that is because I was initially shocked by The Nearsighted Owl, a happy chubby woman.  The media portrays fat people us miserable, and thin people as happy.  I subscribed to several body positive tumblr sites. It changed everything. I was so shocked by some of the images I came across—very fat women with very thin men in relationships. I had never seen a pairing like this before.  It eventually became normal to me. I started to feel like my body was normal as well.  It’s such an easy way to reposition your brain.  Eventually you can move on to books, and websites, and other resources to continue this journey.

Why do you choose to love the mirror?

I have so many reasons.  I think that one of the reasons I have decided to love the mirror for the rest of my life is because it’s a radical act of resistance, and I’m really turned on by that. This is one way I can do that. It not only challenges our oppressive society, and its need to keep people in line, but it also has a really liberating effect on my life, as well.

What do you think is the most difficult thing about learning to love the mirror?

We have been living in a society in which the diet and beauty industry have made billions of dollars for years. It’s been going on for decades—since the 1800’s. It’s become so ingrained that people don’t even realize it’s happening.  And even if we do, we’re fighting hundreds of years of calculated marketing.  I’m twenty-eight years old, and I lived twenty-six years of my life being completely brainwashed, but it’s not like you can free yourself from this beauty myth immediately. It’s a constant uphill battle. I still have horrible body image days. I do this for a living, and I have a very supportive partner and community, but I still have days where I cry over feeling inferior.  That just shows how hard this can be.  It’s not about loving yourself 100% of the time.  It’s difficult, and most people will take a lifetime to get there. It’s about having more good days than bad days. It’s important to be honest with ourselves, and have those bad days.

What do you have to say to those who believe that it is wrong for people with larger figures to love their bodies?

I think that my heart almost goes out to them. When someone dislikes the fact that someone else loves themselves, it speaks volumes about them. Those who love themselves do not have problems with others being happy.  We’re all in this together.  Body image issues do not just apply to larger women.  They apply to everyone.  I have a friend who is a traditionally attractive, professional model, yet she still has body image issues.  No one is free from this reign of terror that advertising has bestowed upon us.  When people are upset that others are happy, they need to look inside themselves.

Any other thoughts?

I want to talk about something called body currency. It really ties into what I was just talking about. We are told as humans that we will be happy if we achieve this certain standard of physical existence. If we have this particular body we will be happy, loved, successful, and all of these false promises will be fulfilled. We spend all of our time and money on this goal that doesn’t exist. The majority of women will never have the body type portrayed in media.  Only five percent of women have the appearance portrayed in the media.  We’re all put on this track towards a goal that we will never get to so when a fat chick like me (who hasn't met the standard of beauty) stands up and says she’s made it/she's happy, everyone gets angry because she obviously cut in line. The world then feels duped for working towards something they haven't found, and somehow this person-the opposite of what we're supposed to be-finds it first? It seems more unfair to those who are still on the track towards "perfection."  But If we can get the whole world to buy into the “love yourself as you are” concept, a lot of hate anger and sadness will disappear.  People loving themselves has the ability to change the world. Body love has the capacity to change the world. I’m content with it changing individual people’s lives, but once it reaches more people it will have a greater effect.

Check out Jes’s full blog post on loving the mirror here! 

About this blogger: Rachael Hershon is a freshman at Brandeis University just outside of Boston, MA. She is English major with a double-minor in Teacher Education and Journalism.  She is also a DJ for WBRS, Brandeis’s radio station, and she helps organize concerts for Brandeis Association of Music and Concert Organizing (BAMCO). Additionally, she writes reviews for The Sirens Lounge—a website centered around alternative music from up-and-coming bands and artists. Rachael is passionate about poetry, music, and body positivity. She hopes to be a music journalist.

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