Most of us are so hung-up on our perceived flaws and body image that even wearing a two-piece on the beach fills us with crazy insecurity and self-doubt. So artist and writer Amy Pence-Brown really is something of a mummy-hero for getting it right out there under people’s noses what female bodies actually look like in real life, post-childbirth, and saying yep, this is ME.
With a sign at her feet declaring, ”I’m standing for anyone who has struggled with a self-esteem issue like me, because all bodies are valuable. To support self-acceptance, draw a [heart] on my body’, Amy stripped off to a black bikini and a blindfold in the middle of a busy public market in her bid to have strangers show their unity.
“You will see the sweat running down my rolls of back fat,” says Amy, “cellulite (on strong legs that have carried me for four decades), a wonky bikini top with sagging breasts (that nourished 3 babies), stretchmarks (that represent my transition from a chubby adolescent to a curvy teenager to a woman who’s been pregnant 4 times), and darkly tanned skin (from a summer spent at the public pools with my friends and my children).
But Amy told reporters she had made peace with her own body ‘long ago’, and hoped that her actions would help more people do the same. “We can’t truly love one another until we fully love ourselves,” she says.
On her blog, Doing it All Idaho, Amy, who is mum to two girls, Lucy,11, Alice,7, and a son, Arlo, 1, explains that she was inspired to carry out her social experiment after seeing a video of young woman undertake a similar campaign in London.
“Jae West sheds her clothing in London’s busy Piccadilly Circus, armed with markers, a sign and a blindfold, asking people to draw hearts on her body if they share her promotion of self-acceptance, after overcoming an eating disorder,” Amy explained.
“How would it be received if the woman had been less socially acceptable in appearance, like, fat? And, say, a mom who’s nearly 40-years-old?” And the idea for her art piece was born.
Amy stood in her bikini and blindfold for 50 minutes as passers-by embraced her campaign and drew hearts and messages on her skin.
She said she had been ‘scared’ that no one would draw on her, and that she would end up standing there ‘alone and crying’, but was instead met with huge support. Empowering slogans and phrases were written on her and one man even pointed her out to his two sons and said: “This is what a beautiful woman looks like”.
Another man, a younger, 20-something male told her: “The effects of what you are doing here are far reaching. It’s absolutely amazing. The power of this moment will go on and in ways you never thought possible. You are changing more lives than you know.”
Amy said the young man’s words ‘restored my faith in humanity’, writing on her blog: ‘You blew my mind with your kindness, you saw the beauty in my body and your own. You are ready for a body positive revolution, and I’m honored to stand by your side. Take my hand, if you need, and I’ll pull you up.’
Wow! Inspiring stuff – but what do you think?
Picture: Amy Pence-Brown