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Body Parts
Ever wish you could take your body into a repair shop and fix it, or replace it with a better, more beautiful model?

We’re taking a focused look at how women view their bodies. Do we learn to love our bodies or hate them? Do we violate or cherish them? Do we celebrate them or hide them from view?

Join us for some body talk!
Laura Waleryszak - V-Day
United States
I understand the pressure that women of my generation feel to look beautiful, but I know that what I see in magazines and on television are not an accurate reflection of who I am, or who the countless women of the V-Day movement feel they are. I know I am not alone in not feeling defined by the fashion and beauty industries. As women, we are more than just body parts.

We are whole people--thinking, breathing citizens of the world who are powerful and beautiful in our diversity. While some people like to reduce women and girls to the way we look, my experience with V-Day has proven that women are concerned about more important things--like ensuring that young girls in Africa get to keep their body parts and live a life free of female genital mutilation.

At V-Day, I've seen time again the power my words and actions can have in bringing about change. I’ve also learned about the sanctity of my body. What if we all stepped away from the mirror and from the clichés of who we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to look like? What would our world be like then?
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22 - 3 of 22 Next | First
luis betances
Dominican Republic
Posted on Monday, December 03, 2007 9:47 PM
Women, Embrace your Afros!!!
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bunmi akinnusotu
United States
Posted on Tuesday, September 25, 2007 7:52 PM
Ultimately, I think we come to love our bodies. This does not mean we are void of insecurities. But at a certain point in life you begin to realize there's more to live for. It is important to take care of your health physically- we can work out, eat healthy, and so on. But for most adults your body does not define the essence of who you are...i would even say for those who make a living off their bodies like models...even they are not happy with themselves! As I've gotten older and also since I have been involved with someone who respects my body- I have begun to see the true beauty of my phsyical self and have learned how to celebrate it as well.
A short note- when I was younger, I used to hate my lips and the gap in my front teeth. My mother used to tell me that they were both a sign of beauty. It wasn't until my early 20s that I began to believe her..someone complimented me on my smile and thats when I realized that if my teeth or my lips were any other way...I may not have the smile I have and use so often :)
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Susannah Nadler
United States
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 12:41 PM
What Shaz Bennet writes about the importance of your heart and your mind (as opposed to your body) reminds me of a thought I had when I was small. My mother would tell me that I was beautiful inside and out. I know now that she meant my personality was beautiful, but back then I took her literally and imagined the space inside my skin as a beautiful dark place full of floating, colored lights. As an adult, when I begin to feel insecure about myself (and my body), I sometimes make myself feel better by imagining my insides, beautiful and dark and mysterious. As an adult I see my insides as a sort of glowing, eggplant purple. This vision helps me to remember who I am in the midst of all the pressures to look and be a certain way. So, to all the women reading this website, you are beautiful inside and out. What does your inside look like? What color do you imagine it to be?
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Shaz Bennett
United States
Posted on Tuesday, September 11, 2007 9:45 PM
It's impossible not to think about your body but ultimately it's about your heart and mind.
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rahina adamu
Posted on Tuesday, September 11, 2007 10:11 AM
i believe we have allowed our society to determine what we should look like,our size,our hight,colour and what we should were to fit in as a woman,we have allowed ourselves to fall in to a trap that is distroying the lives of many prety women all over the world,it is not enouge that all over the world women are being looked down at and are the most poor in almost all society but women are faced with societal expectations of what they should look like or what beautifull is!

our society is obsessed with thinness,with women looking rather sick and pale than beautifull due to so much weight lost. many young beautifull women have lost their lives or have been irrevisibly scared for life trying to look "beautifull"in the eyes of the society using cheap means and unqualified doctors.

lets look at the fashion world,who dominates it? men or women? do we dress in a certain way,wear certain makeup,shoes,increase or reduce our breast,go for liposuction and tummy tuck and many more because we like it or for someone else? this is a question we should ask ourselves,are we allowing men to dominate this part of our life too?

i feel free about my body and what it desires,i love what i look like and i wear my crazy stuff ,some i do design myself with the help of my tailor and i feel free, comfortable and happy.i believe everything is fashionable ,your body is fashionable ,sexy and desirable as long as you like it yourself and you feel comfortable with it.

lets learn to love ourselves and appreciate what we are and who we are with nothing artificial,just the naked us.
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Laura Waleryszak - V-Day
United States
Posted on Monday, September 10, 2007 2:35 PM
I think we all are doing a good job of describing how we would like women to view themselves and accept and love their bodies. But, what do we think are practical ways to foster this self-love in ourselves and others? At V-Day, we believe that one way to accomplish this is to feel comfortable talking about our bodies.

When Eve Ensler first began performing her play “The Vagina Monologues,” based on hundreds of interviews she conducted with women, playgoers literally lined up after each show to speak with her. Ms. Ensler expected that these women wanted to share stories of their own empowerment, or about the great sex they were having. Instead, every single woman told her a story about the rape, abuse or incest they had experienced. In many cases, the women had never spoken of these traumas before. The play does not focus solely on sexual violence but, rather, covers a wide range of women’s experiences. So, simply by witnessing someone speaking openly about her vagina and removing the mystery that normally shrouds this body part, women felt inspired to finally speak out about abuse. Ten years ago, Eve Ensler decided to use her play to create social change; she began V-Day, a non-profit organization to raise money for anti-violence organizations through thousands of benefit productions of “The Vagina Monologues” around the world each year. So far, the organization has raised over 40 million dollars to end the violence. It is truly a testament to how even speaking honestly about a body part can honor it and therefore protect it.

How else can we move toward our goal? (engaging in a conversation such as this certainly seems a step in the right direction.)
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Blanka Amezkua
Posted on Saturday, September 08, 2007 10:29 PM
I hope for the day when we, women, truly begin accepting ourselves as who we are...not as what the media or others want us to be...but love, value, appreciate, respect the only true image of ourselves (let's also step away from the mirror more often)...with our own particularities, our beautiful differences, and our distinct natures...yes, I agree with Laura, we are more than body parts...mind and spirit as well...that ultimately give us are unique characters...why should we wait for acceptance from others, when this character is so specific to each and everyone of us? And this character is a huge aspect of the self that moves, each and everyone of us, in our own very specific and unique directions. I recommend we watch less TV, less fashion mags, if possible, none at all...
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Rana Lotfy
Posted on Saturday, September 08, 2007 5:12 AM
Many women have fallen into the trap the media has set for them, telling them how to look, what to wear and eat in order to stay attractive or get better opportunities. Women are to be judged by their brains, character and personality not by their bodies or looks.
Stereotypes play an important part.For instance if you're a Muslim woman wearing hijab and living in a Western country, you're immediately labeled as oppressed and backward! Women belonging to a certain ethnic group are labeled as easy or prostitutes. Stereotypes are countless!
And men .... oh they've got to learn to respect women more and treat them as an equal not an inferior. Many of these problems are due to patriarchal societies that emphasizes on the idea that men are superior.
The point is to educate others that this is a human being with feelings, emotions and brains. Nobody is superior because we're all equal in the eyes of God.
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maya de silva chafe
United States
Posted on Friday, September 07, 2007 1:56 PM
I have always struggled with body image stuff, I am blessed with a nice body and keep in shape by dancing every day and riding my bike, eating right and staying young at heart. I am 47 but I am in good form, I can dance a 15 minute solo, I weigh only 130lbs and am happy with my body. I am a dance teacher and I always tell my teenage students that they need to start loving themselves as they are so that they have a good self-image. When so much advertising is so sexy it is hard to reconcile what I tell my ten year old daughter, that what is inside a person is more important than how they look, since some day any beauty we posses now will be gone and we must be beautiful inside. Also, I still wear tight clothes, I enjoy the attention I get from people, both men and women, (I am not gay, but I enjoy looking at beautiful bodies of either gender) and I need to be seen as fit and attractive, since I make much of my money performing on stage. However, one thing I love about Flamenco dance is that it can be performed well by people of any age , color, shape or size. Here in america, we are too much thin and beautiful obsessed, but in Spain, you may see old and heavy women performing, and far from being ridiculed, they are revered and look like Goddesses when they stand up to perform. The human emotions that we try to express transcend our physical form, they are fundamentally shared by all humans. So when men do catcalls in the street, I try to remember a few things.....1) We are animals, programmed to be attracted to the best possible breeding stock. If I look nice, men will be attracted. 2) I am happy to still be pleasing to the eye. 3) Men express themselves in the best way that their education permits them to ( and they are much more ruled by their sexuality than most women) and so while I think it's disgusting when the homeless bum on the Bowery says he wants to be my bicylce seat and then I am charmed when a handsome young man jumps out of a car into the street of Madrid to say to me" Ay mi vida, mi tesoro, adonde nos vamos para tomar un cafecito?( Ah, y life, my treasure, where are we going to share a coffee together?)The two men are expressing their admiration and desire in the best way they know how, some are gross, others sweet, but they all love us. We are all by ruled by different kinds of passions and, maybe the black and puerto rican men in NY like my curvaceous ass more than their white surfer boy brothers in california because of local diet and what their moms look like? I don't know the answers, I am interested in all the questions.
I love Esther Babb's revision, reassembling the images of the Flamenco dancer Magdalena. She (M) is a dear friend of mine and I recognized her feet before I knew who it was, the side of her mouth, the curve of her neck. The essence of her spirit is captured here: a strong and beautiful woman. It's funny how much is imagined, how much I know of Madeleine that the normal viewer doesn't know, her found dog Osito, her great sense of humour and love of children, her blue eyes.
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Posted on Friday, September 07, 2007 12:24 PM
Did you know about our Added Story feature? It gives you an incredible opportunity to add your own stories, poetry and images to the exhibit, anytime!

An inspirational Serbian women’s organization called The Women in Black has added a story. Please go to the equally wonderful story I am sure you have already read by Sandra Bello,
look to the right of your screen under “Added stories” and read about false modesty imposed on women by the Orthodox Serbian Church and these women’s creative resistance and response to it.

The Women in Black are fearless women admired by young women across former Yugoslavia, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation. When nobody else dared to speak, they protested openly on Belgrade’s squares. When they were threatened, they still returned and this time yelled. When they were physically attacked, they only became more determined.
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Evelyne Kahungu
Posted on Thursday, September 06, 2007 3:26 AM
We all cant be perfect but again who or what defines perfection.....the media or our societies or even ourselves?

I read Arin's comments on dressing as an issue and i want to say even in my country lots of women have been stripped naked coz of their dressing and this is mainly done by men. They decide when we are decent and not showing too much skin. Our parliament couldnt even pass a sexual offences bill because they were not tooooo sure that women dont wish it on themselves to be raped. Absolutely crazy but it happened.

I believe all women regardless of they shapes and sizes as well as their age.... are the most beautiful beings that God ever created and hence we should celebrate our diversities, black, white, slime, chubby, old or young we got one life to live so live it well and celebrate you
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Gwen Ong
United Kingdom
Posted on Thursday, September 06, 2007 1:59 AM
Kate Kirkman's comment drew my attention because just two days ago, a few construction workers shouted "Another prostitute" when they saw me on the Belfast streets. Then they cracked up and started clapping. I wasn't dressed in anything revealing. In fact, I was in my usual jeans and sweater. I was judged not because of the wya I dressed but simply because I was of a different colour. When I went back to photograph the perpetrators one of them asked me if I was from Bangkok because he'd just returned from there. I suppose he'd had his jollies there and took pleasure in reliving his sexual exploits by assuming every non-Caucasian woman was from the city of sex and prostitution. I think these problems are sometimes caused by women who are insecure about themselves and see foreign women as a threat. I often hear people say we (the foreign women) have come to steal their men. All of the unpleasant encounters I've had with the local men have been initiated by the men. I'm sure there are some foreign women who fit that description to a T but I also know lots of decent hardworking women in Belfast who are not Caucasian. Few women are confident enough to be supportive of other women. If I wanted to board a bus in my bikini I should be able to without being ridiculed but I suspect I'd get lynched by an angry mob of women while the men would stand aside and get excited by the spectacle - they might even provide the mud.
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Claire Bong
Posted on Thursday, September 06, 2007 1:55 AM
Yes, women these days are pressurized into having the perfect bodies and it is seriously unhealthy with no thanks to the media. I think most people don't love their bodies as much as they think they do.

When I was younger, I always thought that I had millions of imperfections especially when I compare myself with my mom. Mum is petite, slim and has a fast metabolism rate. I always felt like a cow :P but now that I'm in my mid-20s, I'm beginning to cherish, love and appreciate my body.

I'm 5'2" and weigh 115lbs and I am thankful that none of that media pressure has gotten to me. I shudder when I see young teenage girls, stick thin, bones jutting out and wearing all that designer clothes that they probably can't actually afford, and all in the name of fashion. Do they not care about their bodies? Do they not know how much has been done to those pictures/ads/banners/commercials to make those models/actors look perfect?

Back then, I used to wear baggy clothes to hide all my 'imperfections' but now I wear what I want and I don't care as much any more. I believe in flaunting and being proud of what you have instead of hiding it!

My body is just part of me. Most importantly, I am me. My mind, my soul, my body. I'm bloody proud of the whole package and I would never want anything changed about it.
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arin temitops
Posted on Thursday, September 06, 2007 1:02 AM

I am aware of the pressuewe face daily as concerns our body parts.
I am beautifully endowed with a lovely bust and i just cant help admiring it myself, when am dressing up.
But I dont altogether feel comfortable when am dressed and some guy is leering down at my cleavage.
i take care in selecting what towear, so as not to draw too much attention to my upper body.
When i am going out with my girls or my boyfriend, I get liberated and can bare it a bit( the cleavage), but when i get to go out alone, especially atthe workplace, i am careful not to draw attention to myself.
We have a lot of pressure to calm down our liberating dressing because of constant pressure from the male species,so it tends to keep us in a sphere of being careful to avoid date rapes and such.
As a teenager, i used to wear skirts and lots of jeans, but one an unfortunate day, i got a date rape, and it so badly affected me for several years tillmy early twenties that I never really wore a skirt again, till I begun to get over it.
Now I am 30 and i comfortable with my sexuality, but i avoid getting into any uncomfortable situation with men around.
If i wnat to show off my cleavage not for anyone but to the fact that its beautiful, I do it in a safe way.
Since we live in a cruel world, where men often think its their world and that everything revloves around them, I can only tell you ladies out there, be careful and dont get into situations you will regret.
Show off what you got, your legs, you toned arms, your beautifully craved waistlines, the deep and plunging cleavages, but please do it in a sfe way.
You can be beautifully dressed, showing the lovely assets without looking like a slut!
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Soma Pal
Posted on Wednesday, September 05, 2007 9:48 PM
I am aware of the dilemma that women face w.r.t the hijab. In my country, while many Muslims wear mini skirs, others wear the 'burkha'...And Muslim men too hold varied views on it. One of my friends (a Muslim male) said "I dont understand Muslim women who wear the burkha...They wear the best dress and the best makeup and jewellery and then wear a burkha...whats the purpose?"

That aside, i have observed that women in all cultures have always been asked to wear 'protective' clothing. I am an Hindu and a Bengali (from the state of West Bengal in India). And, I am married. Many Bengali married women have to cover thier head with their saree while praying to God or while touching the feet of the elders. In some conservative families, the newly wed girl has to cover her head for several months while interacting with visitors.

In northern India and parts of western India, if you go the villages you will find women with the 'ghungat' (the lengh of saree over the head) dropping down till their chin...married women are not supposed to show their face at all. Similar concept as the burkha....

In all marriages, irrespective of religion, women have to cover their head in some way or the other. However, I have observed that in marriages in southern India, women are not supposed to cover their head.

A few years ago, there was a very interesting 'controversy' in a small distric in West Bengal. Male members of the society felt that women wearing 'salwar kameez' are less virtuous than those wearing the 'saree'. I dont really know the reason. But, i found it quite surprising because a saree shows your midriff but a salwar kameez covers you completely...

So, i think much of the 'dress code' has to do with what people are used to. Values are relative. What we need, as someone here said, is to educate people about what is effective and what is not.
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Kate Kirkman
Posted on Wednesday, September 05, 2007 9:26 PM
As a young woman living in a Western Culture, I feel that women should have and do have the choice as to how they want to be perceived, be it moderst or not. In my opinion women will always be judged on what they wear - ultimately translating into how they are categorised. I must admitt I feel the main reason for this is because it's women who are the ones judging each other. As long as we are not only comfortable in our skins, but also within our threads, our minds and our spirits then your confidence within yourself will ensure your sucess in your life, be it your career, family, friendship circle or love life.
yes, men will act like dogs when a slim woman wearing next to nothing walks past, that's why I agree with point of raising our children to respect women. To all those women about to give birth to a baby boy - this is your chance to raise a son who is still going to turn out like a man (because we still need men to be men, lets not turn them into women!), but who simply knows how to respect a woman and treat her as a human not an object.
I don't really agree that women feel more sexy when they have more of their body covered up - maybe women who are not entirely comfortable within their skin would feel this way, however being proud of your body and choosing to show it means that you are asking people to look at it - lets not be nieve - you show your clevage (or legs or belly) not for the chance of catching a breeze and cooling down, but because you like your breasts and you want to show them to others - unfortunately, sometimes there are people who look that you didn't intend to show, but that's life, if you've got it advertised honey then people will watch it and I'm talking about not only men, but women too simply because a woman will look to compare it to themselves and to judge. many times i've heard the comment, we don't dress for men, we dress for women.

I suppose at the end of the day my comment is that women empower other women, we give each other confidence, advice, support, judgement and sistership. I think as individuals we simply need to show the rest of the world, women and men, who we are as our own person. As long as you are confident with everything within yourself and how you look, then honestly - does it really matter if some women choose to flaunt what they have and use themselves for the benefit of men? At the end of the day, living in a western culture you always have a choice with every single tiny aspect of your life there is no-one to blame but yourself, and don't judge others for the choices they make - it's their life, so why are you worried?
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Mennat-Allah Mourad
Posted on Wednesday, September 05, 2007 2:02 PM
Living in a muslim country and being a muslim myself has made it hard for me giving that I have some radically different views than what is said to be the "right thing". In speaking of modesty, women in muslim country "should" wear hijab. The reasons to which she is going to be protected from the eyes of men which would eventually lead to sin. I'm okay if women opt to wear it and actually most of my friends do but what I don't get is society's view that a woman should resort to covering herself to prevent male harrassment or that she would be revered more for covering her hair and body instead of teaching men that women are human beings of equal status who should be revered and respected whatever they choose to wear or not wear. Another problem is of course the sexualisation of women which is apparent mostly in music videos, and in ads, where women are used as bodies to sell an idea. Both ideologies treat women as mindless bodies and that what is most important about any woman is not her mind, her personality, her kindness or any other trait but what is most important is her body and what is covered of it or not covered
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Laura Waleryszak - V-Day
United States
Posted on Wednesday, September 05, 2007 11:00 AM
Writer Ariel Levy published a book called “Female Chauvinist Pigs” in which she discusses ‘raunch culture,’ the social trend of ‘liberated’ women turning themselves and other women into sexual objects. She investigates the success of Hooters and Girls Gone Wild, and specifically female enthusiasm and support for such organizations, as examples of this phenomenon. I agree with Victoria that this sexual excess or what she calls “the extremes of cosmetic culture” is the antithesis of the modesty movement, and yet is also harmful to women’s empowerment and safety.

It is frustrating how often feminism is pitted against modesty, as if the two are mutually exclusive. However, whether or not a woman considers herself to be a ‘feminist’ is less important than if she loves and respects her body. Regardless of spiritual or political beliefs, if a woman feel she owns her own body and life, she will not fall into a neatly packaged category that someone else creates for her (whether that is as a sexual object or a pillar of feminine virtue). A confident woman who is truly comfortable in her skin falls somewhere between the two previously mentioned opposing and overly simplistic movements. She ceases to worry about wearing what fits some social trend, and instead wears what makes her feel most comfortable and beautiful. Perhaps this sometimes means a flirty short skirt, but many women feel most confident and sexy when their bodies are more covered up.
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Victoria Pitts-Taylor
United States
Posted on Tuesday, September 04, 2007 5:28 PM
The modesty movement seems to me to be the flip side of the extremes of cosmetic culture. Both are ideologically worrying, and both suggest that the female body is a zone of symbolic conflict over gender roles, sexual equality, and other significant social issues.
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Sonja Matanovic
Posted on Tuesday, September 04, 2007 3:42 PM
Check out Esther Babb's "Flirtatious Parts" -

1) what I found to be "flirtatious" and attractive and feminine about the video are not the body parts shown, but the strength and power of the movement and sound. The dancer lures you because she seems loud, powerful and capable of creating beauty.

2) It's neat to see an artist's (Esther's) interpretation of another artist's (La Magdalena's) work. Esther, as a photographer/videographer, captures all the things that La Magdalena exudes that we might miss if we saw her perform live - her pretty bits of hair, the look and shape of her feet, the shape of her calves, and the intensity of her movements. Esther has re-captured and redefined this dance - the parts are even more engaging than the whole.
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