Thursday, October 7, 2010

Body-Con OR Help Wanted!

This post is not a real post, per se. This post is a call for help. From you.

For the bazillionth time, this is my senior year of college. Come May, I will graduate and be off on my way to Real Life, where I will get a Very Official Real-Person Job and maybe an apartment with my law school bound boyfriend and everything will be peachy keen and I will never be a child again OMGIAMHAVINGANEXISTENTIALCRISISABOUTLEAVINGCOLLEGE okay I forgot to breathe for a second there.

Anyway, being a senior means I have to do a "final project." I put quotation marks in there because my "final project" will be happening this semester, and I have a whole 'nother semester to go... so it probably won't be the actual last project, I'm guessing. That said, it is the most important and I get to decide what it's going to be as long as it relates to my English major specialization. I'm specializing in journalism, so I get special privileges with this project. While regular English majors will have to write long papers about Blake or something, I get to pretty much have free reign as long as I do a couple reflection papers and whatever ends up being passed in resembles journalism.

Wanna guess what my topic is? You'll never believe it.

Yup, body image.

Here's what I want to do: I want to create a series of narrative interviews that talk about bodies and make them human again. Hatred and envy and misunderstanding of all kinds of different bodies are these powerful forces that lead us to objectify each other. I know we've all thought of someone at some point as the skinny bitch or the fat chick or the ugly girl or the beauty queen or whatever it may be. We live in a society where the general view of bodies is so skewed that many of us have stopped considering the actual people inside them.

My goal is to get some really great interviews from a diverse group of people, and through unique, triumphant, heartbreaking, and inspiring stories, put the human face back on the body. We are not our weight. We are not our height. We are not our hair. We are human first, and all people, no matter what they look like, should be seen that way. We all make judgments, but it's time we remembered that when we place such a high value on bodies-- for which there are no real universal beauty standards-- we hinder the people inside them.

So why do I need your help? Because I need people to talk to.

Who do I need? Anyone. I want people who are fat, skinny, average, athletic, male, female, transgendered, short, tall, and any other thing you can imagine. Are you a person? I want to talk to you.

What I'm looking for, as I said before, are stories that might be hard to tell. I want to get something that is deeper than what you usually see in a magazine. I want to do interviews that are in-depth enough that I can actually create a snapshot (or a series of snapshots) of an important development in your life with your body.

I understand that I am an Internet stranger and that talking about really personal things-- whether they be triumphs or tragedies-- would be difficult. But maybe you could get something even more than having your story told out of this. It can be so cathartic to talk about the things that have hurt us. It feels amazing to be unabashedly proud of our accomplishments. And if I know you lovely people at all, I know you are the kind of body image warriors I want to talk to.

The interviews wouldn't necessarily have to be over the phone (certainly not in person unless you live in the Worcester/Boston area) because I know that's quite expensive. We can draw up the details as we go. And honestly, I just decided on this project today so we'll be working through this together. If there's a huge outpouring of people, I'll figure out how many people I can actually talk to, but I'm playing that by ear as well.

So if you're at all interested in having a talk, please let me know in the comments (preferably including your e-mail) or e-mail me at:


Jem said...

Sign me up!!! I would love to help you out and create a snapshot of how we all have different body images.... such an important topic to talk about! You can reach me through my blog :)

amanda said...

I am all over this like Paula Deen on bacon! But then again, you probably knew that. ;-)

Here's my email: goodbyeroosevelt [at] gmail [dot] com

Georgie said...

hey so i'm interested in your project and i sent you an email, and its kind of long and such, but yeah! i'm keen :)

Bec said...

Hey Vanessa,

I'd be keen to be interviewed for this. I've struggled with body image for years and dated a body builder (they have more body image issues than any of us).
my email is and skype is bec6203

Destined For Now said...

I would be interested if you need extra people.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested- the perspective of a dancer might be interesting, and I'm quite young. My e-mail is

Leah Felicity said...

I can talk about that, too. I've had a long and (somewhat) interesting relationship with my hair, my body, and my weight, and am totally open to talking about it.

Vanessa said...

Thanks so much, everyone! I'm really pleased that so many of you are interested! I'll be contacting you all soon once I figure some more things out.

And anyone else who sees this, you are still more than welcome to offer your stories! Having a big pool of participants would be helpful to getting a good range of stories to tell :)


Shanna said...

I'm completely on board! I'm not sure how different my perspective has been in comparison to anyone else's, but I'm happy to add my bit.

You can reach me at
smcleod (at) purdue (dot) edu

D. said...

I think you should see this post:

I don't really have a story to tell, so if you're lacking the usual body image struggle story, contact me :) I'll send you an e-mail.

Weesha said...

This is so interesting! I would love to be a part of it if you still need volunteers. My email address is

head over heels said...

i would really like to help out, you can email me:

i love your blog so much, it would be nice to repay you for your words a little :) x

elnajay said...

I would be glad to help out if you would like more people! Always love reading the stories that you share with us. :)

You can reach me at elnajay at gmail dot com.

Rose said...

i'd definitely interested in participating in your project if you still need people. my email is on my profile page. :)

Steffani said...

Wow, it's absolutely great to see that there are still people who think like this (: If you need any other help, I'm down.

Steffani said...

Wow, it's absolutely great to see that there are still people who think like this (: If you need any other help, I'm down.


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