BTC Blog

The Power of Diverse Body Representation in Art

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We here are Beyond The Curve talk about the power of representation and exposure to different body types as key in really embracing body love. The way it works is pretty simple. If you see more bodies that look like you, it normalizes your shape and your negative feelings are replaces with more positive ones. Filling your Instagram with plus size bloggers and cutting out sources that idolize the “ideal” body (i.e. women’s magazines, high fashion websites, etc.) are proven ways to help people start and maintain more productive thinking about their own bodies. However, the more ways that you can get different visuals of diverse bodies, the better off you will be. In order to provide you with EVEN more great images of all kinds of bodies, here some additional sources that can helps you achieve full on Body Love Warrior status.

Coloring Books

Adult coloring books are hot! This art therapy is used for the treatment of everything from depression and anxiety to borderline personality disorder. It is also a fun and relaxing activity that brings you back to your younger days and it is very satisfying. You can color in everything from beautiful undersea images to artistic masterpieces to vulvas. Happily, there are even some options that that contribute beautifully to our efforts of normalizing different types of bodies.

bodyloveA brand new offering is Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book by Allison Tunis. The author is also the illustrator and used images of real people for her illustrations, which you can color in any way you want! Even some of your favorites fat activists like Jes Baker are included in the pages. Tunis includes many types of fat bodies including those belonging to people of color and men.

Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace: A Body-Positive Coloring Book by Theo Nicole Lorenz has been around quite a bit longer but was reissued in June 2016. Just as the title tells you, it is filled with images of different sized women not just in space but doing cool stuff like riding a robot unicorn and using a jetpack. You know, like we did last weekend. The author has shared that they are planning at least two other Fat Lady coloring books od different genres.


Previously written off as the domain of “geeks and nerds”, comics are having a moment. faithWhile accurate representation of the female form in this medium is a controversial topic, there are at least a few places where larger and/or different bodies can be seen. One of the better known is the series comic Faith by Jody Houser and Marguerite Sauvage. Our heroine is described as “fat and fierce superhero” who both comes to terms with her new powers and fights crime.

Another source for body diversity is the work of Sarah Winifred Searle , whom we have touted in a previous blog entry. She is also extremely sex positive which is a lovely combo. Two new-to-me sources include Girls with Slingshots includes relatively diverse body types in a positive light and Godseeker, which has a fabulous fat fertility goddess among its strong female leads.

Traditional Art

From Rubens to Botero, the curvier feminine form takes many shapes in the art world. This doesn’t only apply to art in museums, although that is a fantastic place to start. screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-8-05-56-pmCurrent artists are doing some wonderful work exploring different forms. Some of my favorites include drawings from Kathryn Mallow from Murder of Goths, works from renowned Chinese sculptor Xu Hongfei  and the charming paintings and sculptures by Susan Ruiter . This includes her painting “Feeling Good”, which is the cover image for this article.


How to Feel Great Naked At Any Size

Today’s blog post is about what I think are the Olympics of body image: Feeling great when someone sees you naked. It’s enough to strike fear into the heart of many women of any size. Today I talk about where these insecurities come from, how they manifest in our lives, and how they rob us of an essential part of our humanity (for those of us who identify as sexual beings at least). If this sounds familiar, our October body image coaching retreat is made for you: I went from refusing to let anyone see me naked to being happy to drop it all in broad daylight. Let us teach you how – sign up here!

Stop me if this sounds familiar.

I don’t want to have sex with the lights on because I don’t want him to see what I look like naked.

I don’t like being on top because I’m too heavy, I’ll squash him.

I don’t like having sex from behind because my I don’t like my ass.

I don’t like it when my partner touches or kisses my stomach.

I don’t like taking off my bra during sex because my breasts aren’t shaped right.

I know what it’s like. The minute you start to get physically intimate with someone, all your insecurities flood into your head like a rushing river. It could be an exciting new date, a partner you see regularly, or even your boyfriend or your husband. The kissing starts, and it feels nice, but already your mind is racing.

It feels like there’s no good solution, no position you can get in where you feel confident, comfortable, and sexy in your skin. And with all those insecurities rearing their ugly heads, you can’t stay in the moment and actually enjoy the sex. You don’t feel connected to your partner because you’re worrying about how you look, and you can’t really get turned on because your anxiety is taking up all the space in your chest.

Is it any surprise that sex ends up feeling like it’s not really worth all the trouble? Or maybe it feels good once you really get going but it’s a momentary reprieve before you start worrying about how your body looks again the minute after you orgasm, if you’re even able to reach orgasm at all.

Insecurity about your body can be so debilitating in bed that I have clients who come to me and tell me that they like to read on their phones while a partner goes down on them. They don’t realize why they like it, but it’s because feeling insecure about your body can be so distracting that you end up having to occupy your brain with something else, like the news or a novel, in order to give your body a chance to build to climax. It’s like trying to multitask during sex!

This is so pervasive that many of my clients don’t even realize that sex can be any other way. Insecurity about your body, what you look like naked, and how you are in bed can ruin your sex life.

For one thing, it cuts you off from your own body. When you’re worried about how your stomach looks you’re distracted, and you don’t feel physical sensations as intensely. Since good sex requires the brain and the body to be in sync, being mentally distracted can actually dull your physical sensations. And when you’re mentally checked out of your body, you never get a chance to really learn what you like or don’t like, what feels good and what feels bad, what will help you climax if that’s what you want to do, and what won’t.

Feeling ashamed of how you look during sex also makes it harder to connect to your partner.  Just think about the fact that so many of us would rather that our partner close his eyes so he can’t see us – talk about making it harder to connect! When you’re insecure about your body, you’re thinking about yourself – how you look and what he thinks of you. That means you’re not able to truly experience intimacy. And in the end, it makes it harder for you to connect to your own body, to find out what good sex means to you, and to learn how to have it.

Ultimately, insecurities about how your body looks naked produce feelings of alienation and distraction during sex. When you’re more worried about how your body looks than how it feels, you’re deprived of one of the most essential dimensions of being a human being: A joyous and pleasurable sex life.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. This may sound far-fetched right now, but imagine feeling completely confident in your body.

Imagine loving how you look naked, and being excited to uncover a form you know is beautiful, radiant, and perfect.

Imagine having sex anywhere in your house or apartment – or outside! – without worrying about how you can get into a flattering position.

Imagine not caring if the lights are on or off – or even imagine wanting the lights on yourself because you like to see the look of total lust and adoration in your partner’s eyes, and you’re in love with the sight of your own skin.

Imagine knowing exactly what feels good to you and having a partner who touches you exactly the way you like.

Imagine being excited to try any new position or toy or act without giving a second thought to how you will look while you’re doing it.

Imagine truly believing that you are beautiful, desirable, and outrageously sexy – and knowing that your partner believes this too.

This might seem impossible. You’ve tried saying affirmations in the mirror about your body, but it never works. You’ve tried putting on sexy lingerie but you just felt self-conscious. You’ve tried asking your partner to touch you more gently (or more roughly) once or twice but he never really did it and you gave up trying. In the end you just ended up back where you started – sometimes sex is enjoyable, sometimes it’s kind of meh, but it’s always accompanied by a flood of insecurity and shame about how your body looks when the clothes come off.

Our October retreat is the answer to your problem.

The truth is, you absolutely can have an incredible sex life. You can feel desirable, appealing, beautiful, sexy, and passionate. You can have the sex life you want and you can feel completely confident that your body looks amazing and your partner thinks you’re the most ravishing creature he’s ever seen. Our retreat will teach you how to learn what you like and what you want, how to enjoy and seek out pleasure, how to communicate with your partner (whether he’s a one-night stand or your husband of 30 years), and how to feel great naked no matter what. And because sex is both a mental and a physical experience, we’ll also teach you some concrete tips and tricks to make sex itself easier and more fun.

Join us this October in New Orleans. Can your confidence and sex life afford to wait?

The Origins of a High Femme Fatty

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Today in the blog, Morgan shares a story about a chance conversation that presented her with an opportunity to really learn something about her thinking. Go for a ride with her on a wild train of thought.
Are you interested in learning the deep stuff about your own thinking and how it affects you every day? We still have a few slots open on the retreat. Book now!

Continue reading “The Origins of a High Femme Fatty”

Why I Don’t Teach Weight Loss

So maybe you can use your formidable energies and brainpower to maintain yourself at an artificially low weight for the rest of your life, if you’re one of the few people who can even get there. But I just don’t see that as a worthwhile use of your limited time and efforts in this life. Women spending their formidable brains and energies on controlling their bodies is what keeps women on the sidelines of life and men running the world.

Today’s blog is all about why I don’t teach using thought work to lose weight – even though lots of other coaches do. If you’re ready to stop thinking about losing weight and start thinking about how to love life in the body you’re in, don’t forget to snap up one of the limited spots for our October retreat. You can sign up here!

Well, the easy answer is: It doesn’t work. But that would be a one-sentence blog post, so let me step back for a minute and explain.

If you’re in the self-help and coaching space, you’ll see a lot of weight loss coaches. These coaches are often wonderful people who mean well, and nothing I am writing here today is meant to dispute that. But all of us are products of our own time and our own cultural obsessions, and there’s no denying that weight and weight loss is the cultural fetish of our era.

Now, I’m obviously a coach too. And I do teach that we create our own results in life based on our thoughts, which motivate our feelings, which cause our actions, which drive our results.

So why don’t I teach that you can change your weight using your thoughts?

Here’s the essential difference between how I understand weight and how many other coaches do. Many other coaches believe that weight is a RESULT of your actions, and therefore something you can change if you change your actions (which you do by changing your thoughts).

I believe – as does the science, by the way – that weight is really about 80% a circumstance, meaning thing outside you that you can’t control. There are a lot of very complicated reasons that people are the weight they are, including biological predisposition, genetics, environmental effects on genetics (epigenetics), environment, chemical exposure, gut bacteria, use of antibiotics, childhood illnesses, chronic stress, inflammation, and, most importantly perhaps, a previous history of dieting.

(That’s because dieting is one of the few things shown to raise your “set point” which is the weight at which your body prefers to be, and to which it will always return if you don’t interfere with how it functions. In addition, when you gain weight you add fat cells – fat cells never die or go away, so while they may shrink a bit, you can’t get rid of them once you’ve added them).

So let’s say I’m right (meaning, let’s say the science is right). There are certainly some people who lose weight successfully and keep it off over the long term, right?

Yes, there are. The percentage of people who can maintain a large weight loss over a ten-year period is extremely small (the studies show somewhere from less than 1% to a max of 5%). That’s not because people are weak or lack willpower, it’s because millions of years of evolution have created an incredibly sophisticated and powerful biological system that we don’t even fully understand yet, and your attempts to defy that system long-term are, statistically, going to be very unlikely. Some of those people are weight loss coaches. If you pay attention, many of their clients are not.

Now, do I think that thought work – e.g. learning to become aware of your thoughts and feelings – can help you lose weight if you’ve been consistently overeating and using food to cope with everything? Sometimes, yes – in that case you were maintaining your weight at an artificially high state and your set point is actually lower than where you were. (Although note that the biology of having done this will still work against you in losing weight and keeping it off long term).

And quite honestly, I think that some people (although not many) can use their thoughts and actions to maintain themselves at a very artificially low weight for a very long time.

But at what cost?

The reason we’re all so obsessed with our weight is completely cultural – it’s not an objective truth about the world that thin people are superior to fat people or that being thin will make you happy. I’ve written before about the myth of thinness and the pack of lies that the diet industry sells us about what being thin will bring.

So maybe you can use your formidable energies and brainpower to maintain yourself at an artificially low weight for the rest of your life, if you’re one of the few people who can even get there. But I just don’t see that as a worthwhile use of your limited time and efforts in this life. Women spending their formidable brains and energies on controlling their bodies is what keeps women on the sidelines of life and men running the world.[1]

Life’s too short and there are too many better things to do – and so many women can’t achieve those ideals no matter how hard they try, and spending all that energy trying is a waste when it could be spent on diversifying our ideas of beauty and health and loving ourselves exactly the way we are. After all, if you can’t change your body, you can still always change your thoughts.


[1] To be clear, I’m not saying that women being vain is what causes structural sexism. I’m saying structural sexism socializes women to focus all their energy on their appearance and thereby diverts that energy away from individual achievements and collective organizing and change.

The Blog Entry about Exercise


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Today on the blog, Morgan talks about exercise. NO…WAIT! Don’t close the screen out! This blog is not that way! There is no lecturing or shaming, we promise! It is about her relationship with movement as a larger woman and the thoughtwork she has done over the years regarding it. From elementary school gym class to a session in body positive weightlifting, it is a pretty great ride. And if you want to do some work on your own thinking about your own relationship with your body with two rad women who are professionals at self love, sign up for our October retreat ASAP! Continue reading “The Blog Entry about Exercise”

How Intuitive Eating Can Help You Love Your Body – An Interview with Jenna Hollenstein of Eat to Love

Today we’re so excited to bring you this interview with our friend Jenna Hollenstein, MS, RDN, CDN. Jenna is a non-diet dietitian who helps people struggling with chronic dieting, disordered eating, and eating disorders. She uses a combination of Intuitive Eating, mindfulness, and meditation techniques to help her clients move toward greater peace, health, and wellness. This week we talked about the relationship between loving your body, body positivity, and intuitive eating. There’s so much wisdom in Jenna’s thoughts here you’re gonna want to take notes! If you want to learn more about how to use intuitive eating to love your body more, don’t forget to sign up for our October retreat here!  

BTC: Hi Jenna! We’re so excited to chat today. So for our readers who don’t know, let’s start out with the basics. What exactly IS intuitive eating? 

Jenna: Intuitive Eating is a 10-principle model of eating that was developed by two dietitians more than 20 years ago to help people stop fighting with food and their bodies and start realizing what they truly find satisfying in terms of eating and exercise.

Essentially it’s a way of shifting your allegiance from external things that tell you what, when, and how much to eat (and exercise) — diets, “experts,” serving sizes, meal times, seeing food or activity as good/bad or reward/punishment — to internal signals like physical hunger and fullness, what you find satisfying, and what kinds of activities you enjoy.


BTC:  That totally makes sense. The emphasis on intuition instead of outside “experts” is so key, because those outside experts can be all over the map. So what do you see as the relationship between intuitive eating and body image?

Jenna: There’s a chapter in the Intuitive Eating book called “Body Respect” that suggests even if you can’t fully accept your body as it is in the current moment, could you treat it with respect? That is, could you notice and respond to hunger signals so that your body is fed regularly rather than vacillating between the extremes of starving and stuffed? Could you allow yourself to participate in activities you enjoy so your body experiences pleasure? Could you allow yourself to be comfortable by choosing to wear undergarments and clothing that fits well?

From my perspective, when you start to work with your body rather than against it (seeing it as untrustworthy and needing of reform, trying to resist or overpower its natural needs and urges), there is a softening that happens. That critical shift toward gentleness inherently leads to knowing that you deserve kindness and comfort just because you exist (not because you “earned” it in any way).


BTC: Love that so much, the idea of working with your body instead of against it. Do you actively do this work with clients on their body image? What are some of the most effective exercises you give clients to improve their body image?

Jenna: I do work with clients on body image because it is so critical to what and, more importantly, how we eat. In fact, I believe body image disturbances happen before disordered eating is set into motion. And on the other side of the spectrum, sometimes long after eating is normalized, body image issues can linger. Perhaps this is one of the ways in which the body responds (to Intuitive Eating) and the mind needs to catch up.

One of the most useful exercises in working on body image is recognizing automatic negative thoughts, or the “negative soundtracks” that are always playing in the back of our minds, and neutralizing them. Just the act of noticing the thoughts and taking the step to write them down can be a breakthrough for people who have never fully acknowledged them. Many people are shocked at how harsh they are towards themselves and comment that they would never be that unkind to others.

Then we work on coming up with neutral and/or self-compassionate alternatives that are just as likely to be true. Someone who habitually thinks “I’ll never find love because of my weight” might start to respond to this thought with “my weight isn’t what makes me lovable,” “my body shape/size is just one of millions of things that make up who I am,” or “there are lots of different body sizes and shapes in the world and different people find different bodies attractive.” This exercise can at the very least open up some space around habitual thoughts and allow gentler thoughts to occur.


BTC: YES. That negative soundtrack that plays almost subconsciously is so damaging and most women don’t even notice that it’s playing – but their bodies and feelings definitely notice. So loving your body definitely involves tuning in more to what’s going on inside your mind as well as your body. When people think about body image, they often think about how they think about the *outside* of their body. What do you think intuitive eating can teach us about the idea of an “inside” body image?

Jenna: Because Intuitive Eating shifts our allegiance from external forces to internal forces (behind eating and exercising), I think it starts to shift our thinking about our bodies from objects to be chiseled and perfected to instruments of our lives that allow us to be and do. And those instruments have a lot of components besides what is seen on the outside – there’s all of our internal organs that silently and often thanklessly chug away to allow us to live, our brains that allow us to understand the world and interact with one another, our hearts that allow us care for ourselves and others…you get the idea.


BTC: Totally. I love the idea of thanking your organs every day for helping you do what you do! It seems like so much of your insight comes from a very personal place. Did you personally struggle with body image in the past? What helped you the most in learning to love how your body looks?

Jenna: I did. I think we all do in some way. What helped me the most was recognizing habitual thoughts related to body image and starting to challenge them. One of the most basic magical thoughts was that I’d be happier/suffer less when my body looked a certain way or attained a certain weight. Having the experience of reaching that weight and still having all the same pain/struggle forced me to open to other possible truths.

Working with body image is an ongoing thing for all of us, I believe. I continue to work with my own, most recently though pregnancy, breastfeeding, and now after weaning from breastfeeding. The body is always changing, if not in such extreme terms than just because we all age.


BTC: I feel like the take-away from every kind of spiritual and mental work is really just “the universe is change, how can you learn to go with the flow.” This has been so helpful, Jenna, thank you so much for chatting with us. How can our readers find out more about your work and your offerings?

Jenna: My website is probably the best way to learn more about me. It has details about my individual client work, upcoming events, and online programs I teach often on the topic of meditation and how it has much to teach us about eating and body image.



The Power of Emotions in the Fight to Love Your Body


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Feelings are the reason that anyone does anything. From holding someone’s hand to yelling at the guy who cut you off to buying a house to eating some ice cream for dinner, each of these actions are motivated by wanting to feel a certain way OR trying to avoid feeling something. Knowing this consciously is very powerful, especially if you are in the battle to love yourself and your body.
Continue reading “The Power of Emotions in the Fight to Love Your Body”

What is it costing you NOT to solve your body confidence problem?

How much are you spending on clothes you never wear, because you can’t stop looking for the magic outfit that is going to take away your insecurities and make you feel beautiful and confident?


by Kara Loewentheil

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with a case of plantar fasciitis. The details of the ailment aren’t important, except to say that it makes walking quite painful. A friend of mine referred me to someone who was a bodyworker/physical therapist/physical trainer hybrid. He specialized in plantar fasciitis, he was very knowledgeable, he came with a price tag to boot. After our consultation I called my friend who had worked with him before and started hemming and hawing about the price tag. It was a lot of money, and I just kept thinking about the number I’d have to write on the check.

After listening to me complain for a while my friend had had enough. “Do you think he can solve the problem?” she asked. I thought about it. “Yes, I do. It just so expensive.”

And then my friend said something that has been burned into my brain since that day. It’s a question I ask myself and my clients all the time, and it has the power to completely revolutionize how you think about money, growth, value and time.

Here’s the question:

What is it costing you NOT to solve this problem?

When I started adding it up, not solving the problem was costing me quite a lot. I was spending money on plantar fasciitis aids I ordered from Amazon. I was spending money on Uber rides to get around town when walking hurt. I was spending money on the co-pay for a cheaper physical therapist that my insurance covered who would know a little about a lot of things but not a lot about plantar fasciitis. I was spending money on ordering in for dinner when standing to cook was painful. I was buying “comfort” brand shoes that didn’t really help.

And then there were the intangible costs. What was it costing me in my emotional and social and romantic life? I was seeing friends less, because getting around town was difficult. I was preoccupied with worrying about my pain, monitoring its levels, thinking about how long it would last and whether I would ever solve it. I wasn’t meeting as many men because I liked to wear high heels on first dates but knew I’d be paying for it the next day with even more decreased mobility. I wasn’t able to exercise, which was having an impact on my health and on my moods.

All of these were costs of not solving the problem – and when I added them all up, paying for the expert solution to the problem once and for all became a no-brainer. I signed up with the plantar fasciitis expert the next day.

Given everything I gained from solving that problem, I now consider the cost a bargain.

So why am I telling you this story? It’s not to help you deal with your plantar fasciitis – that guy moved to Europe anyway.

It’s because I know that some of you are thinking that you really want to solve your body confident problem, and you’re thinking that our New Orleans retreat sounds amazing, and you believe it would teach you what you need to know to solve your problem, but you’re worried about the cost.

So what I invite you to consider today is this:

What is it costing you NOT to solve your body confidence problem?

How much are you spending on clothes you never wear, because you can’t stop looking for the magic outfit that is going to take away your insecurities and make you feel beautiful and confident?

How much are you spending on diet books and programs, plans and pills? How much are you spending on cleanses, nutritionists, weight loss coaches, supplements, and meal plans?

Or maybe you’re not spending any money on it, because you’re just kind of getting along – not really loving your body, not really enjoying being in it, not really liking to look at it.

But what is it costing you in your emotional life? What is the cost of only having sex with the lights off and your bra on? What kind of intimate life are you missing out on?

What is the cost of not going out dancing because you don’t want to wear a short skirt, or skipping a beach trip because you don’t like wearing a bathing suit? What kind of adventures and memories are you not having or making?

What is the cost of not being able to enjoy moving your body, or being ashamed to exercise because of your size? What is the cost to your health, your vitality? What is the cost of not experiencing the natural pleasure of moving your one body that you’ll ever have in this life?

What is the cost of not having the security and confidence to wear anything, go anywhere, and do anything? Can you even calculate that cost?

Loving your body is invaluable. It is priceless. It is the difference between a full rich life and a muted shadow one, between loving this wild and beautiful existence deeply and staying on the sidelines because you feel safer out of the spotlight.

If this story resonates with you, join us in October in New Orleans. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make.


Six Steps to Feeling More Sex Positive


Poor body image can affect many parts of one’s life, including sexuality. This can be a real Catch-22 in that you may be shy because of how you feel about your body so you don’t enjoy sex as much or feel unworthy of a good sexy relationship at all. If you are not getting laid, you might blame it on nobody being attracted to your body. BOOM! The dysfunctional cycle is in play. Developing body confidence is a process…but what can you do right now to jumpstart your own identity as a sexual being? Well, here is a list of six steps you can take right now!

Continue reading “Six Steps to Feeling More Sex Positive”

Why Your Body Size Matters…and Why It Doesn’t Matter At All

Here’s the thing about your body size: It matters a lot, and it doesn’t matter at all. Both are true at the same time. Here’s why:

by Kara Loewentheil

Here’s the thing about your body size: It matters a lot, and it doesn’t matter at all. Both are true at the same time. Here’s why:

We live in a society that values women based on their appearance, and our cultural norms prize thinness above almost any other attribute a woman can have. (Although of course she’s also supposed to have large breasts and a shapely ass somehow along with that thigh gap).

So if you’re thin, regardless of how you feel inside, you benefit from “thin privilege.” You see yourself reflected more often on TV or in the media, you’re more likely to be hired or promoted than a fat person with the same qualifications, and you’ve got an advantage in the dating pool too. Fat bias exists – and correspondingly, so does thin privilege.

But that’s not the whole story. We all know thin women who hate their bodies. Hopefully most of us also know a fat woman or two who loves hers. Being thin doesn’t guarantee you body love or acceptance, and being fat isn’t an automatic sentence to self-loathing.

That’s because what matters most, much more than your actual body size or shape, is your thoughts. You can match the cultural ideal and still feel terrible about your body, and you can be far outside the accepted “norm” and feel foxy as hell.

Now I’m not saying that thin privilege / fat bias don’t have very real economic and social consequences. They do.

But even when society is working against you, your thoughts make all the difference.

Thinking that your body is disgusting or unacceptable will make you feel anxious, defeated, and rejected, no matter what your size. And that will keep you from going after what you want, and from having the kind of confidence that signals to yourself and others that you deserve it.

Loving your body and believing that it – and you – deserve love, success, and happiness will make you feel motivated, joyful, and determined.

Your thoughts can’t cancel out the impact of social oppression. But they can make a big difference in giving you the energy and inspiration to resist bias, celebrate diversity, and love the body you’re in just as it is, no matter what it’s size.

P.S. If you’re ready to have that level of confidence in yourself – no matter what your body size is – come join us in New Orleans for our October retreat! Your brain and your heart will never be the same.