TIME women

I’m a Body-Positive Feminist and I Had Weight Loss Surgery

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The same philosophy that allowed me to find peace with my fat body also allowed me to make the decision to have weight loss surgery

xojane

OK, so this wasn’t really something that “happened” to me. I made an educated decision about my body and my future.

I have always been fat, and for a long time, I really hated it. I spent more than two decades of my life wishing I would magically wake up “normal.” Until I was in my mid-20s, I didn’t know what it felt like to not wear a heavy cloak of shame and insecurity.

Like so many other fat girls with Internet access, I discovered that body positivity was a thing, and that I could feel good about myself and I didn’t really have to give a fuck about what other people thought. I decided to be happy, regardless of my size. I began identifying as a fat feminist. I actually started feeling okay about my body. I was doing okay and there were people who liked me, even loved me, despite my fatness. At some point, I even started kind of liking myself, and then my fatness became somewhat of a non-issue. Eventually I came to be at peace with my body. It was mine and mine alone, and it was beautiful.

As I moved into my 30s, life happened. I was thriving in a supportive community of folks who embraced me as I was. I got a good job; I found my soul mate; I got engaged. My size was a non-issue, and I was happy.

But I wasn’t healthy. I was on medication to prevent my high blood sugar from turning into diabetes. I slept with a machine attached to my face to keep me breathing at night. I didn’t have the stamina I needed to be able to do my work every day. Polycystic ovary syndrome, which is closely tied to what doctors liked to refer to as my “morbid obesity,” meant I might not be able to have babies, and I was more likely to get diabetes or certain kinds of cancer. Physically, I didn’t feel good. Emotionally, I was at a crossroads.

In short: I could continue not caring about my weight and go about business as usual. Or, I could lose weight. I’d struggled with depression and, yes, even suicidal thoughts in the past, but when I started having health problems, I was at a happy place in my life — and I wanted it to stay that way. I wanted to be my best self, and for me, that didn’t just mean being happy with my physical body, it meant having my physical body be healthy.

My decision to have weight loss surgery was not made lightly. I spent a lot of time trying to reconcile my body-positive politics with my desire to live longer and have babies and be able to walk up the flight of stairs to my office without getting winded. I also spent a lot of time trying to lose weight through more conventional methods, like diet and exercise. My medical conditions made that nearly impossible, and no matter what I did, my health kept declining.

Ultimately, the same philosophy that allowed me to find peace with my fat body also allowed me to make the decision to have weight loss surgery.

I made an educated decision about my body. It was mine, and mine alone.

Yes, weight loss surgery can kill you. And yes, I’m an advocate for health at any size. But, real talk: Being fat was actually, actively killing me. For me, the benefits of weight loss surgery outweighed the risks. Having your guts rearranged is not fun, but overall, my improved quality of life has made this process, albeit difficult, worthwhile.

The experience of losing more than 140 pounds in a very short period of time has been socially and emotionally difficult, too. When you lose weight, everyone starts to pay very close attention to your body. People I barely know now find it appropriate to tell me how happy or impressed they are by my change in appearance, while I often feel judged by the fat-positive community in which I once found comfort and acceptance.

My body was nobody’s business before I had surgery, and it’s nobody’s business now.

For me, weight loss surgery was not an “easy way out.” It was a tool that was available to me, and I made the informed decision to use it to take control of my health. I can’t think of much that’s more empowering — or body positive — than that.

Trisha Harms is a writer, social media strategist, and social justice advocate. This article originally appeared on xoJane.com.

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TIME celebrities

Scarlett Johansson Says She Has ‘an OK Body, I Guess’

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US actress Scarlett Johansson gestures as she arrives for a press conference of the film Captain America AFP—AFP/Getty Images

"I'm not going to complain. I've got thighs and a midsection, so I'm happy"

Barbara Walters opened an age-old trap for actress Scarlett Johansson, during an interview for her annual special on the “Most Fascinating People of 2014.”

“Do you like your body?” Walters asked in the segment, which aired Sunday night.

“It’s an ok body, I guess,” Johansson said, attempting to answer a question with basically no right answer. “I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s particularly remarkable, though.”

Continuing to pan for gold, Walters continued: “Any parts you don’t like?”

Johansson, who was named Esquire’s “Sexiest Woman Alivetwice, responded, “I don’t like, you know, my thighs, my midsection…”

Stars: they’re emo teens just like us.

Jessica Alba is “not as excited about” her legs. Victoria Beckham thinks her feet are “the most disgusting thing” about her. Regina George’s pores are huge! (But at least their nail beds don’t suck.)

“But,” Johansson continued, literally throwing her hands in the air, “Eh, well, who can complain? I’m not going to complain. I’ve got thighs and a midsection, so I’m happy.”

Now, who wants to go grab some fries?

TIME Body Image

Watch Little Kids React to a Realistic-Looking Barbie Alternative

"She looks like a regular girl going to school."

The dolls kids are used to playing with are often nipped and tucked to have impossibly big eyes and a ridiculously small waist. So when Nickolay Lamm presented a Pennsylvania class of second graders with his Barbie alternative, his newly created Lammily doll which has the measurements of an average 19-year-old woman (according to CDC data) rather than an anatomically impossible mutant, he didn’t know how they were going to react.

Most of the kids thought the doll, available for purchase Wednesday, looked kind of familiar.

“She looks like my sister!” one girl exclaimed, smiling. “She kind of looks like my aunt Katie,” said another.

“She looks like a regular girl going to school.”

“She looks like she would help someone if they were hurt.”

“She’s not like other dolls… she looks real.”

That reality check didn’t prove to be a bad thing. When presented with a blonde and busty Barbie, the children said that they’d rather have the one who, if real, “would be able to stand.” A very apt observations, considering previous research showing Barbie wouldn’t be able to lift her head fully if she were an actual human.

Of course unrealistic looking dolls are still very popular whether it’s Barbie or the Monster High collection with their mini-skirts and platform-heeled thigh-high boots. In 2012, researchers asked 60 girls, ages six to nine, to choose one of two paper dolls: one dressed in a tight “sexy” outfit and the other wearing a “fashionable” but loose and covered up outfit. Sixty-eight percent of the girls wanted to look like the sexy doll and 72% thought she would be “more popular” than the conservative looking paper doll. That study had a limited sample size, and paper dolls are no match for 3D toys, but the results are an indication of how difficult it is to change cultural trends.

But perhaps after a decade during which dolls have gotten ever more racy, perhaps parents and kids are ready for an appealing alternative to the bug-eyed, wasp-waisted creatures that now populate the girls aisle. At least that’s what Lamm is betting on.

Read more about the Lammily doll — and her strange accessory packs — here.

Read next: Mattel Apologizes for Making Barbie Look Incompetent in Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer

TIME Body Image

The New ‘Normal Barbie’ Comes With an Average Woman’s Proportions — and Cellulite-Sticker Accessories

"I wanted to show that reality is cool," says the creator of the Lammily doll

Screen shot 2014-11-19 at 3.57.10 AMIt’s a month before the holidays and you’re grappling with a serious toy buyer’s dilemma: 0n the one hand, you kind of just want to get your kid a Barbie; on the other hand you’d rather not perpetuate the peddling of anatomical ideals that are so impossible to achieve — and impractical. (Were Barbie human, she’d have to walk on all fours because of her tiny feet and because she would only have room for half a liver.)

That’s why graphic designer turned toymaker Nickolay Lamm created the Lammily doll — what the Barbie would look like if she actually had the measurements of an average 19-year-old woman’s body (based on CDC data). And brown hair. (She also comes with a sticker-extension pack, complete with cellulite, freckles and acne, but we’ll get to that later.)

What started as an art project in July 2013 became available for purchase and delivery Wednesday. “Parents and their kids were emailing and asking where they could buy the ‘normal Barbie’ — but they didn’t exist,” Lamm, 26, tells TIME. And so he decided to crowdfund his creation, raising $501,000 for his $95,000 target goal. “To be honest, I knew it was either going to bomb or blow up, there was no in between,” Lamm says.

Lamm also created a video that transforms a Lammily doll into a Barbie to really get his point across:

“I wanted to show that reality is cool,” Lamm says. “And a lot of toys make kids go into fantasy, but why don’t they show real life is cool? It’s not perfect, but it’s really all we have. And that’s awesome.”

But real proportions and movement weren’t enough. Before putting the $24.99 dolls on sale — 19,000 dolls are going to backers, but 25,000 more are ready to be shipped before the holidays — Lamm decided to take things a step further.

Enter the $5.99 sticker-extension pack, available in January. Lamm says it took four months to find the proper sticker material, that gives the doll’s face acne, freckles, moles and the ability to blush:

Lammily
Lammily
Lammily

Lamm also decided to include scrapes and bruises. “Some people were like ‘Oh my God,’ as if I’m promoting domestic violence or something,” says Lamm, before assuring TIME that that was far from his intention. “Look, we all get boo boos and scratches. Life isn’t perfect, we all sometimes fall down but we get back up.”

Lammily

Lamm’s aunt recommended he add scars, he says, “because, you know, some kids have scars and are really shy about them.”

Lammily

But then there’s the cellulite and the stretch marks:

Lammily
Lammily

Unleashing a doll with stretch marks on the Internet is basically asking for trouble. But Lamm insists that it came from a sincere place, and that some people will welcome the option. “Demi Lovato even tweeted about it,” he says:

“You know, people were saying this whole project was a joke from the beginning, so I have no doubt some people will take it as a joke,” Lamm says. “But I hope there are enough people who believe what I believe. I think 25% to 30% will think the stickers are stupid and the rest will think it’s good.”

The Lammily will have other fashion options in January:

Lammily

“This is the doll people have been waiting for,” Lamm says. Stretch marks and all.

See More: Watch Little Girls React to the Realistic Barbie Alternative

Read next: New GoldieBlox Doll Takes Aim at ‘Barbie’ Beauty Standards

TIME Body Image

Old Navy Explains Why It Charges More for Women’s Plus Sizes

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An Old Navy clothing store is seen in Springfield, Virginia,/AFP/Getty Images) SAUL LOEB—AFP/Getty Images

Almost 20,000 people petitioned the company to stop

Old Navy is under fire for its double standards when it comes to plus size clothing prices. While men pay the same price for regular and larger sizes, women get charged up to $12 to $15 more for plus sized items.

Almost 20,000 people have signed a petition asking Old Navy to change its practices. Renee Posey, who started the Change.org petition, notes that while she was “fine paying the extra money as a plus-sized woman, because, you know, more fabric equals higher cost of manufacture,” she was alarmed that the same standards didn’t apply to men, inciting that “Old Navy is participating in both sexism and sizeism, directed only at women.”

Old Navy’s explanation? A spokesperson for Gap Inc., the retailer’s parent company, issued a statement to TIME (among other outlets):

Old Navy is proud to offer styles and apparel designed specifically for the plus size customer. For women, styles are not just larger sizes of other women’s items, they are created by a team of designers who are experts in creating the most flattering and on-trend plus styles, which includes curve-enhancing and curve-flattering elements such as four-way stretch materials and contoured waistbands, which most men’s garments do not include. This higher price point reflects the selection of unique fabrics and design elements.

So more detail equals more money.

Spokesperson Debbie Felix didn’t respond to questions about Posey’s rebuttal about why the extra cost doesn’t apply to regular women’s clothing that includes the same fabrics and “figure-enhancing elements.”

A look at Old Navy’s petite section shows that the retailer charges the same amount for its smaller sizes as it does its “regular” sizes.

[BuzzFeed]

TIME fashion

Calvin Klein Never Called That Model ‘Plus-Sized’ — Twitter Did

Internet users are outraged over a "plus-size" campaign that never happened

On Sunday, Twitter drew from its bottomless well of outrage and took aim at Calvin Klein for apparently calling a beautiful, slender model “plus-sized,” which in certain circles is the moral equivalent of eating a baby orphan.

One problem: Calvin Klein never called Myla Dalbesio plus-sized. The campaign wasn’t a plus-size campaign, and the line of underwear isn’t for plus-sized women. The Twitter controversy was actually ignited by an interview Dalbesio gave to Elle, during which she describes her thoughts on being cast as a “plus size” model for other brands — not Calvin Klein.

In fact, she even said in the interview that she was impressed during the shoot at how she wasn’t treated differently from any of the other models. “I’m not the biggest girl on the market but I’m definitely bigger than all the girls [Calvin Klein] has ever worked with, so that is really intimidating,” she said. “No one even batted an eye.”

She continued: “It’s not like [Calvin Klein] released this campaign and were like ‘Whoa, look, there’s this plus size girl in our campaign.’ They released me in this campaign with everyone else; there’s no distinction. It’s not a separate section for plus size girls.”

At size 10, Dalbesio is bigger than the sample-sized models, but smaller than most plus-sized models. That’s why she thought being included in the Calvin Klein shoot was such a big deal. “I’m in the middle,” she said. “I’m not skinny enough to be with the skinny girls and I’m not large enough to be with the large girls and I haven’t been able to find my place. This [campaign] was such a great feeling.”

Dalbesio confirmed to TIME that “plus size” was “never part of the picture in any way” while she was working on the Calvin Klein shoot. Calvin Klein said in a statement that “these images are intended to communicate that our new line is more inclusive and available in several silhouettes in an extensive range of sizes.”

But those on Twitter who were annoyed missed the part where Calvin Klein never called Dalbesio plus-sized, probably because they never bothered to actually read Dalbesio’s interview. All they needed was the brand, the “plus-size” label and the picture of a Dalbesio holding her stomach to go into full-on outrage mode:

True, it’s problematic that Dalbesio considers herself “bigger” than all the other girls Calvin Klein has ever cast. But the brand made a big step forward here by putting a model who would otherwise be cast in the “plus-size” category in an industry with serious body-perspective issues, into their “normal” campaign. It’s not as groundbreaking as casting a model who’s size 14 or 16, but it is progress.

TIME Body Image

Victoria’s Secret Quietly Changes Controversial ‘Body Shaming’ Ad

After more than a week of campaigning for Victoria’s Secret to change (and apologize for) an ad campaign that places the title “The Perfect ‘Body'” over a slew of svelte supermodels, body image advocates noticed Thursday that the lingerie company had quietly altered the wording of its slogan to read: “A Body for Every Body.”

Here’s what it used to look like:

Even though the “Every Body” ad appears to only feature, well, model bodies, the change has been called a success by some advocates.

“This is amazing news!” writers of a Change.org petition that has garnered 27,000-plus signatures announced. “However the campaign is NOT over! We still want them to change all of the posters in their stores, apologise and pledge to not use such harmful marketing in the future.”

While the wording on its website has changed, some Victoria’s Secret posters appear to be the same:

Victoria’s Secret did not apologize or inform the petition writers about the change — rather, “we found it ourselves.”

The company did not respond to TIME’s request for comment.

TIME Culture

Keira Knightley Posed Topless to Protest Photoshopping

"The Imitation Game" Press Conference
Keira Knightley at "The Imitation Game" Press Conference at The Fairmont Royal York Hotel on September 10, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario. Vera Anderson—WireImage

"I think women's bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame"

Keira Knightley recently posed topless in Interview Magazine as her own personal protest against photoshopping. Knightley told The Times she demanded the (not safe for work) photos be unedited so people could see what she really looked like.

“I’ve had my body manipulated so many different times for so many different reasons, whether it’s paparazzi photographers or for film posters,” Knightley said. “That [shoot] was one of the ones where I said: ‘OK, I’m fine doing the topless shot so long as you don’t make them any bigger or retouch.’ Because it does feel important to say it really doesn’t matter what shape you are.”

(READ: Keira Knightley and 7 Other Celebs Who Protested Photoshop and Won)

Knightley’s figure was controversially distorted on the poster for King Arthur in 2004: Her breasts were edited to look bigger than they are in real life. Though the studio bore the brunt of that scandal, the actress herself came under fire in 2006 when she and Scarlett Johansson posed nude with a fully clothed Tom Ford on the cover of Vanity Fair, in a picture that emphasized the gap the demands made of famous women and men in terms of playing up their sexuality. (Rachel McAdams reportedly skipped the shoot after realizing the women would be asked to pose in the buff.)

But Knightley is taking a stand now. The Interview shoot captures Knightley’s real figure—including her true breast size. “I think women’s bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame,” the Imitation Game actress told The Times. “Our society is so photographic now, it becomes more difficult to see all of those different varieties of shape.”

(READ: This Is What the Same Woman Looks Like Photoshopped in Different Countries)

That’s just one of many candid truths 29-year-old Knightley has been preaching on her current press tour. This month, she also told Net-a-Porter that she’s annoyed as a feminist that most movies reflect only what middle-aged white men want and identify with. She has turned down many a role because she thought she was being asked to do things male actors are never asked to do—specifically gratuitous sex and violence. “It’s actually a difficult question: how much flesh are you meant to bare?” she said. “We’re saying that we should be sexually liberated but then again not that sexually liberated. It’s confusing.”

She added that she long ago left fairy tales behind: “Why should you wait for some f–king dude to rescue you?”

Amen.

Read next:

TIME Body Image

This Is How Adults and Kids Respond to the Same Question About Changing Their Bodies

“Probably like a shark mouth, so I could eat a lot of stuff”

We’ve grown accustomed, thanks to Dove, to videos in which people reveal their insecurities only discover that they’re actually beautiful just as they are. And despite their feel-good intentions, many of these videos leave viewers questioning their impact: They reinforce the importance of physical beauty, some say, and sometimes lack diversity in the body types they present.

A new video, “Comfortable: 50 People 1 Question,” continues the “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” trend, although this time it’s a PSA from a non-profit rather than an advertisement masked as a PSA. (Though, to be fair, it is sponsored by a skincare company.)

In the video, adults and children are asked what they would change about their bodies, if they could only change one thing. Not surprisingly, the adults answer immediately, having trouble picking just one. The kids, on the other hand, have to think a bit harder, and their answers are imaginative and uncorrupted, aiming to enhance their existing bodies with fantastical superpowers rather than dismantle the bodies they have.

It’s not earth-shattering, but it’s a useful reminder to tap into that childlike positivity when you’re less than thrilled with what you see in the mirror.

TIME Body Image

Thousands of People Want Victoria’s Secret to Apologize for ‘Perfect Body’ Ad

But can it make a difference?

More than 16,000 people have signed a U.K. petition asking Victoria’s Secret to apologize for an “irresponsible,” “body-shaming” ad.

The lingerie company sparked outrage for a new campaign celebrating “The Perfect ‘Body.'” The ad copy is a riff on the brand’s “Body” lingerie line, but since the slogan hovers above the supermodels’ bodies, people say it sends the wrong message.

Dear Kate, an underwear company “made by women for women,” insists that the lingerie industry as a whole can and should do better. “As if women need a reminder of our society’s homogenous definition of beauty, the ad features ten models with almost identical body shapes,” its website reads. “The creators of the ad probably didn’t think twice about the message it is sending, and to us, it’s irresponsible marketing.”

Here is Dear Kate’s alternative:

But can the petition incite change? Petition writers Frances Black, Gabriella Kountourides and Laura Ferris note that “we have yet to hear a single word from Victoria’s Secret! It can’t be much longer until they listen up and realise that they have some apologising to do.”

Victoria’s Secret did not reply to TIME’s request for comment.

But the “Perfect Body” campaign is in line with past marketing efforts. Victoria Secret’s previous “Love Your Body” campaign (which also incited backlash) provides a stark contrast to companies like Dove’s take on promoting an ideal body image.

Some companies just prefer to promote “perfect bodies” rather than “real beauty.”

Read next: Why Teens Are Turning to Human Growth Hormones for the ‘Perfect’ Body

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