Category Archives: The T’ruth in Print

Be your Own IT Girl

Walk past any news kiosk and it’s clear what’s hot, the face of the it girl splashed on the majority of the covers makes that all too clear. In the eighties we had glamazon Cindy Crawford, the Nineties waif Kate Moss, now it’s Paris, Lindsay and Halle. Like Pavlov’s dogs we set out in a mad frenzy to become her, doing the best with what we’ve genetically been given and what we can financially acquire; hot haircuts, wedge heels and the right length skirt and the bag of the season. If it’s within our budget we could add or remove unwanted fat and place it where they say it should be, lips, breasts, or booty. However when the look of o’the day is beyond facsimile we have no recourse but to await the next season, like playing roulette we hope the little ball lands on something closer to what we naturally are or can successfully feign.
For years I have shed my clothes in dressing rooms and looking around me I can’t help thinking that when it comes to dance and aesthetics, I have the very same feeling as looking at Vogue, nauseously inadequate. I discerned that directors are like fashion editors; choreographers designers and we the dancers, are models. Some are touted for their facility, some for their artistry and quality while others are simply the muses. The dance world moves at a slower pace than fashion but whether we like to admit it or not it’s still based on aesthetics. Looks do count, not for everything but they certainly help. I think of Gelsey looking at Suzanne wondering, “What does she have that I don’t?” it wasn’t talent. Speaking of Balanchine, he single-handly created the paper-thin hair flowing look that had girls fearful of cutting their hair and made Tab one of the four major food groups.
Alas the wheel spins again. Today the millennium ballerina has breasts, junk in her trunk, spiky hair, an Afro and even tattoos. Of course there will always be the it girls for whom roles are created and ballets designed around, likewise there will always be her counterpart, the often unappreciated ox who remembers the counts, know all that parts, can be thrown in at a seconds notice, neurotically working to be it, hoping against hope that the golden girl will twist her ankle and she’ll get her shot and like an old MGM movie she’ll go from chorus girl to star over night. But this is not the movie The Company and Neve Campbell fell out in the end anyway. I suppose its just better to remember why we dance in the first place, the love of it, and somehow make ourselves it girl in our minds, whether we are way upstage on quarter or in the dressing room waiting for her twenty minute solo to end. Personally I exact my revenge at the gala with my irresistible charm and infallible fashion sense, spotlights don’t always shine on stage, I carry mine with me!

That’s my two cents you can keep the change.

Are we our Bodies? (for Michelle)

My discussion with the mothers and daughters brought up some interesting topics. One that stuck with me was prompted by mother Michelle’s admission that since her body went haywire after the birth of her only child (daughter Danielle) she no longer felt like herself. Postpartum her thyroid was off kilter and the baby weight having never ebbed, 16 years later is just, weight. When she looks in the mirror she does not recognize the swollen woman that has replaced her once svelte image. “I feel cheated.” She says. Where she loves her daughter she is angered at what the pregnancy had wrought on her body. I suspect it would be different if she was somehow felt culpable in her transformation by overeating or not taking care of herself but this is not the case. “I don’t eat badly, I teach like six [dance] classes a night, water is my drink of choice” she is not even genetically prone to the body that she now lives in. Like invasion of the body snatchers over night (nine months) she was transformed, she now lives inside a foreign form she does not identify with, and is subjected to the stigma that goes along with being heavier. The extra weight has not only taken her physical form but has altered her personality. “I tell my daughter that she hasn’t really met me yet, this is not me” Once the subject of the photograph her shame has pushed her behind the lens, as photographer not wanting to seen, or create evidence that this is indeed now who she is. But is it? Are we our Bodies?

Sitting there as her truth surged out we all got it; her pain and frustration were palpable.
It was real, her insides did not match her outsides and it was Mother Nature who cursed her (damn that Eve!). She spoke of not wanting her daughter to be plagued by such issues of the body and the honesty with which she shared with her. “I’m not going to lie, I don’t like this.” She said referring to her body. As a group sitting around her, we were at once taken aback by her honest outpouring and frightened at how on levels we could empathize with her. We were all at one time chided or teased for being too much or not enough, we as women (or girls) had all at some point been the recipient of attention or affection unwanted, unsolicited or inappropriate, we had all at some point been ashamed, confused or at odds with our bodies. We had all for good or bad had been made to feel that it was our bodies made us who were.

Whether is it having your body transformed through pregnancy, puberty, or just never having your insides and outsides ever match (extreme cases would be the trans-gendered) it is ubiquitously common. Are we our bodies? Perhaps the simplicity of the question belies the depth of what is truly being queried. Within the subtext lies the reality that people are indeed sized up, categorized and judged by their appearance, beauty is a commodity as are class markers such as speech, etiquette and dress. One’s appearance can open or close doors and create or shut down opportunities. We continuously judge books by their covers, often never bothering to crack the spine, we are a socially illiterate society as hence why we have become obsessed with the appearance of our physical selves often putting more value on the external then other aspects of our beings. We often neglect our internal health (mental, psychological, spiritual), the very things our flesh is charged with housing. There are those who feverishly workout at gyms and yoga studios, diet incessantly, spend thousands on fashionable wrappings and cosmetics all in an concerted effort to look a certain way, which will make them “feel” a certain way and have others “feel’ a certain way about them, to accept them. Where they may be the most fantastic looking, delicious smelling creatures, once you open the book of the person you might find that they do not like themselves. Due to internal neglect, they may have become beautiful yet abominable human beings, insipid, disconnected, selfish, or just plain clueless individuals lacking compassion, and empathy. It sounds harsh, but whom reading this has not had the experience of this sort of discovery? In the media we see despicable but beautiful people lauded and made rich and famous. Horrible is the new black; to be villainous is sexy and cool so long as you are pretty. Reality television has taken this to another level as it thrives on vapid, callow, morally bankrupt people who are easy on the eyes. Why worry about the inside when the outside is what people care about, pay for and even fall in love with?

Who we are is a complicated equation consisting of numerous elements: our bodies, minds, thoughts, feelings, words, deeds, beliefs and more. That having been said the perception the world has of us often does not include what is invisible to the eye. We want to believe that we would never be so superficial as to reduce a person to the numbers on a scale, the clothes they wear, the car they drive, or the place they live. Like I said we would like to believe that, but we all know better don’t we? We as a society (Americans) or race (humans) all want to believe ourselves to be better than we are.

The reality is no, in truth we are not solely our bodies, deep, deep in our hearts we know that, however we are in desperate need of a shovel. It is complex equation and based on various levels of perception all of which (depending on where you’re standing) are true. There is the way we see ourselves (inside and out), the way we are perceived by others who don’t know really us (their observations, and slight interactions with us) then there are the perspectives of people who really know us. The third I like to think is something closer to the configuration of “Who we are”. Their intimate knowledge often shades and colors their opinions of us. Once known, our qualities often begin to act as a concealer for what could be viewed as physical “flaws”. Things that might have stood out gradually recede to the background, acne, potbellies, a limp, bad posture, and bad teeth; once we get to know someone we hardly notice such things. People become to us how they treat us, how they make us feel, they become their deeds and actions.

With the commercialization of the body and the marketing of lifestyles it’s increasingly hard to find a quiet place to center oneself and in an effort to remember whom you are, as oppose to who they say you should be. Like the continuous propaganda broadcast of Orwell’s 1984, it gets in your head. We all have begun to feel the effects of the consumer Kool-Aid, believing at we indeed are our bodies that it’s shape and form defines who we are. We have begun to believe that we are inherently broken or damaged and that a product we buy can make us better, whole, beautiful, lovable from the outside in, and it does feel that way, that is until something happens to it.

The adage “You never miss a god thing until it’s gone” has enjoyed staying power mainly because it is a truism and where the body is concerned can be illustrated in numerous ways: aging, injury, illness. Personally I have always struggled with coming to terms with my shape and form for many reasons. The most pervasive would have to be my affinity and talent for classical dance. I as a tall, muscular, black woman I fit nowhere into the paradigm of the form. The one thing I did have was facility. I was turned out and flexible. As the years pass and my body has accrued frequent flyer miles in the studio and on stage my facility has waned. If in my youth I never knew what tight was, I know it now. Move it or lose it is my reality, as I get older if I don’t continue move, I won’t be able to. I took my body for granted so much that I never thought there was anything to take for granted. Likewise I have watched friends who had always been pencil thin hit menopause and plump up all over. Some never thought they were thin enough, and some ate everything and never thought about a thing they put in their mouths or the nutrition content. Things change. I have seen young dancers full of desire and passion for their futures get diagnosed with conditions that make professional careers impossible- they rue the classes they cut to hang out with friends. Our bodies are temporary; they are biodegradable and will break down. As a friend said to me as my father lie sick and dying- “Well, if you keep something for 60 years something bound to go wrong” she had a point.

Over the past 3 years I have had the displeasure of watching the bodies of people I love deeply betray them with illness. I have watched the fear, the incredulity and the heartbreak of such betrayal. Some have been people who have played Russian roulette with their health, smoking, drinking, drugging fully aware of the consequences but hedging their bets until… There were those who have always been physically conscious and conscientious, eating well, exercising, and doing all the “Right things”, and others still who just lived their lives until one day something wasn’t quite right. I have stood close but not too near, as decisions have been made between the lesser of two evils in regards to treatments. I have witnessed the truth in the 7 stages of grief when impending death is all too near. Though my relationships with these people were varied in their levels of intimacy, I can say that the thing that stands out relative to the topic at hand is that none of them were all too much worried about how they “looked” anymore. In some cases after the reality that with certain treatments their hair would be lost (along with their taste buds and appetite) some embraced the possibilities of wigs, headscarves or hats making it a new fashion statement others simply bided their time hoping the would see they day that it would grow back, probably grey and of a different texture. Whatever their issues with their bodies were they are completely sublimated from dissatisfaction to compassion and appreciation for their bodies pre-illness. It’s as though the diagnosis eradicated or minimized their previous malcontent reducing it to petty and vapid and unimportant. This is not to say that their body issues, or vanities dissipated they were merely placed in perspective. What difference does it make if you are thin or beautiful if you are ill and in pain? Battling Cancer is quite different from catching the stomach flu and losing that five pounds that brings you to your goal weight. When treatment begins and weight falls off, and they are human shrink dinks fighting to keep a pound or too on, it seems silly to think that just months before they were on an elliptical machine like a addict on a pipe. The irony of life never ceases to bemuse.

As I write, I have that feeling you get when consoling a small child who is forlorn because of some injustice in their new lives and you wipe their tears and try to assure them that is gets better, that children won’t always be mean, that the smarting sting of sharp words will fade, that they are beautiful inside and out and once people see that they will appreciate it and that everything will be alright. Where your soliloquy begins as an effort to comfort the child you find that as you speak, a weight forms in the your chest because you know you can not make those promises. More to the point you know that where it should be true, it is not. Though you might not be telling a lie you are not telling the whole truth either. You being wrap the child tighter and tight with the hope that by the time they are your age all these things will be true, and that these are the last tears of this kind that they will have to shed, but you know that they are not. I write the words, “We are not our bodies” while accepting the hard truth that yes we are still judged and judge others in this regard. Perhaps it is part of the journey of the human spirit, the path we must take in order to understand what is truly important and of value. Perhaps we must work through- work out the issues with our bodies in order to get to the truth of ourselves. What makes a person who they are has yet to be defined and is certainly not limited to bone, muscle, organs or fat. We are much more than just our bodies. The essence of a person’s being has yet to be defined it is powerful, inexplicable. The truth lies in the enigma of the human spirit, which is intangible; it is a wonder that can neither be held with hands, nor shrouded in designer clothes. It cannot be contained it can only be experienced; the only thing that we can do, is to look for it, seek it out in others and ourselves by working on accepting, appreciating and honoring the beauty that stands before us in every and any form.


A year ago today I launched My Body My Image. It was a heartfelt project stemming both from my personal struggles and the struggles of the many young dancers I encountered through my years of teaching. Personally I thought that I was on to something, but when we are in our heads we always do! It wasn’t until there was an outpouring of support for the site from friends, and people who just stumbled upon it, and their positive feedback and encouragement that I knew for certain that this was needed. I want to thank all the people who contributed this year:

Natalie, Courtnay, Jenny, Jessica, and Makeda, your voices have added knowledge and a voices to the forum, and helped all that read your work and I look forward to working with you more in the future.

I’d like the thank Christopher Mack of Mack Digital for designing the sight and keeping us up and running!!!

I’d like to thank April Megan, Robert Garland, my Bikram HarlemYoga Family and Linda Denise Fisher- Harrell, for her early support, you all helped me so much in the very beginning, Thank you

To date we have had 58,466 hits and the hits keep coming.

I am so happy and proud and look forward to bringing you more in the future!!

Theresa Ruth Howard

Join our Facebook fan page! I am trying to reach 365 fans by midnight


Our whole lives we work to meet a standard or expectation. As small children we are slowly introduced to the ways our specific tribes (families). Each family has their methods of interaction, rituals and ways they have of doing things. Everything from the way we speak, what we eat, dress, as well as our moral codes is taught to us in these foundational relationships. Instinctively we are eager to please our “tribe” and quickly learn to fit in. We are so young our exposure is limited, and our view of the world is relegated to those we come in contact with. We hardly know or realize that there are other ways of being. Since we have very little contrast in our lives or the capacity to comprehend what that is, without thought we emulate the examples surrounding us. Slowly, and gently our world expands as we begin to socialize in other arenas (play dates school etc.) it is at this point that alternative information in introduced and we begin to experience contrast or other ways of being, and this is the beginning of our realization that something else, something other than what we know exists, it is at this point that we start the cycle of questioning and choice.

When I was a very little girl I did not know who Elizabeth Taylor (dubbed the most beautiful actress in the world) was, but I knew whom my mother was, and in my eyes no one could have been more beautiful or elegant than she. My Mother even after having nine children (one at a time) had managed to maintained her waistline, with ample breasts and hips in perfect balance, she was noted for her curvy legs and had the most beautiful hands I have ever seen save for her belly mapped from childbirth she was unmarred. My mother is very fair, I am a nutmeg brown in complexion and were I grew to have her legs (thanks mom) my physique is more that of my father’s side of the family. Though I did not directly look like my mother somehow it was fine. As a family brothers and sisters and I are like the colors of the rainbow ranging from what is called “high yellow” to my nutty complexion. Our body types are divergent as well, from short and round, to tall and lean. As a little girl when I sat around the dinner table I could see bits of myself in all of the faces and bodies surrounding me, and though I always wished I were lighter in complexion I never felt uncomfortable or inadequate.

My world expanded rather quickly and exponentially, at the age of three I started Montessori school and was thrust into to a world where people not only came in different colors but ethnicities. Who knew that people came in so many shapes and colors? One of my fast friends during that period was a girl named Rya Silverman. She was possibly the whitest person I had ever seen. She had pale, translucent skin, blue eyes and white blonde hair. She looked like all of my baby dolls. She was frail of body and emotion quite the opposite of me. Both Rya and I moved on to Baldwin Academy for Girls in Bryn Mawr the suburbs of Philadelphia.

It was in this environment that I learned to hate my hair. Every Wednesday was swimming day. This was pre-Revlon hair relaxer days and I knew that my carefully pressed out ponytails were going to be puff balls by the end of the day once the water hit them. I was smart enough to know that after swimming my best bet was to stand under the hairdryer, my hair still bound in pigtails and dry them the best I could. To release them was to unleash a mane that, as a seven years old I had no skill to handle. One day my teacher, concerned that in the winter weather my hair would not dry thoroughly, insisted that I take my hair out to dry it. I looked up at her skeptically knowing full well what was going to happen. But she had already started to undo one side. A limp puff was released, and as my hair dried it became a tsunami of an Afro puff. Now without the proper tools to comb through the mass we both stood there trying to figure out what to do. I gave her the “See, I told you so” look annoyed at the fact that knew that I was right, and because she was bigger and older I had to obey. Now, not only did I look a hot mess, but also I would be forced to go through my day looking like the pick-a-ninny that being the only black student from k-9th grade I already felt like. Add to that the fact that my mother was going to kill me because I knew better, in this simple act of taking out my wet hair I had just created an hours worth of work for her combing out my rat’s nest that evening. Chagrined, my teacher, now fully aware of her mistake and in ignorance at how to deal with this expanding problem left me there and feigned busying herself with the rest of the children. I was left alone to wrangle my hair into some sort of order the best that I could. She never came near me again on swimming days when I stood defiantly under the dryer with my hair in ponytails. This incident was one of the most indelible of my childhood. I had always known that I was black, and “different” from girls like Rya but moments like this confirmed it in a negative way. My teacher knew instinctively how to help my white classmates with their hair but was clueless as to how to help me. I was on my own. This was one of the first times I can remember wanting to be something different, to have different hair, to be like the rest of my classmates to be the same, not to be “other”.

After school I went to Pennsylvania Ballet where I trained 3-5 days a week. I was once again one of the only Black children in the program. It was there that my desire to look like my white classmates not be “other” was fully formed. In the dance studio where you are exposed physically and emotionally, trying to master a technique that hinges on aesthetics, the perfection of line and placement, when you do not have the ability to blend in appearance (meaning skin color, hair type and style) it puts undue pressure on you to be perfect on another level. The only way I could blend or look like my teacher was to perfect my technique and line. When I looked in the mirror even if I managed to create the correct line, my brownness got in the way, somehow it always looked wrong. At least at my dinner table I could look around and see aspects of myself, in the ballet studio there was nothing like me, once again I was on my own, other.

This two worlds, my academic and artistic created a separation that I had never experienced in my household with my tribe but and odd thing happened as a result, those two environments created a separation for me in my household and my neighborhood. My family new little of my talk of dreidels, Passover and bat mitzvahs (common occurrences in my predominantly Jewish school) the kids on my block looked at my Lacrosse stick like it was a medieval instrument of torture, nor did they know what a Ronde de Jambe or Grande Allegro was. In an effort to educate me to the best of their ability, my parents had unwittingly created another level of isolation. I had through the years grown into the “Other” in my home. My interests expanded, my references grew, my aesthetic changed so did my ability to connect with my family and neighborhood friends, and I began to segment the areas of my life. I began to want to look like a “dancer” with not behind, and arched feet, I spoke of people like Gelsey Kirkland, Kyra Nichols and Baryshnikov, where they understood the world I was speaking and dreaming of, they did not, could not understand it. Even to this day my family as no concrete idea what my life as a dancer, as an artist consists of, they are still perplexed by my traveling the world to dance, or teach. It is a world apart from them, they are proud, but they stand outside of my world looking in.

If I were to truly look at the source of my sense of otherness its nascent roots would stem from my body, both inside the tribe of my family to my schooling and my dance training. From being the brownest member of my family, and then becoming a dancer, to being one of the only students of color in school and in the dance studio I was always slightly different. I could change elements of my personality to blend, an ambivert by nature (believe it or not when I was younger I was quite shy when I was in public) I remember the day I consciously decided to exercise my extrovert, and use my humor as a protective shield to be liked and accepted, my thinking was, “If you make people laugh they won’t want to hurt you.” In the world I could be smart, funny, I could use my talent as a way to “fit in” but still my body as it was set me apart. With my family I could fall into our shared tribal ways of being, but the desire of my heart in terms of what I wanted to be (a dancer) was far from them, there was always going to be a part of me that I could not share and experience with my siblings with an intimate level of understanding (except on a level with my father who worked to educate himself as to the world of dance). This sense of isolation has stayed with me; it has informed every aspect of whom I am. Standing on the outside while being in the center of these worlds as giving me the perspective I hold now hold about race, and education, dance, art and the world and yes even the body.

I am, and have always been “other”. Other is a term to describe not being apart of the majority, the norm the status quo. I have been “other” in body all of my life, and later as my world began to expand through education (both academic and artistic) my thinking and philosophy about life and the world relegated me to the realm of “other” as well. As a youth I did not understand it, I resented it; it was painful, isolating and lonely, I have since learned to embrace what my “otherness” offers me, the ability to be a part of and yet set apart from concomitantly, to see things from multiple angles all at once, it has helped me arrive at a place of acceptance instead of mere tolerance for things unlike myself or anything else, and especially of myself. My Otherness has been for me the beginning of Understanding.

Would you like to contribute to My Body My Image?

Every one has a body story, if you would like to share yours just email your submission to and join the discussion!

I want to hear your body issues and how you deal with them
What bugs you about how the media portrays the female image?
What do you think about the fashion industry and the female form?
Have you discovered a way to accept appreciate, and respect your body? well share your tool with others!

It’s all In Your Words!

Hunched and Hungry….is that hot?

Maybe it was because we had both had been watching re-runs of Sex and the City on E, or perhaps it was the feeling that Spring was breaking and it always makes you want to renew something, your home, your self, or your wardrobe, either way, Sunday my Bestie April and I decided to forgo our usual in house brunch and go shopping instead. April had sworn off skinny jeans but had decided to give them another shot. Although she is “skinny”, being 5”10 she found the standard 29 inch inseam too short and thought that the style itself made her look too much like a stick. I know, it’s hard to be her friend when it comes to conversations of her trying to gain weight and looking too thin, but the poor dear, someone’s got to do it.

So we decided to make it a jeans hunting Sunday and save our cocktailing for the post to make us feel better about the traumatic experience, which is akin to bathing suit shopping in terms of horror. In the past I have spent exurbanite amounts of money for the hip hot jeans, but the fit was never right. If they fit right in the hips and thighs I would always have that gap at the back of the waist. After spending $200.00 I found that additional $30.00 for tailoring insulting. Speaking of the gap- that is where I would always end up, at the Gap, buying my jeans out of their “Curvy” line. For $60.00 I could slip on a pair of jeans that fit like a glove, hugged the waist and made everyone ask, “What kind of jeans are they?” I after 3 seasons of shopping around and trying to spend money, only to be left feeling like a deformed loser because nothing fit right or looked good, as a last resort I would end up back at the Gap. I decided to commit to the brand and be done with it.

Sunday it was my plan to start high end and then if we had no luck go to the Gap- thus making April a new convert. Coming from opposite ends of the Isle of Manhattan we braved the typhoon that was Sunday’s weather pattern and met at Bloomingdale’s. In the J Brand section we were assisted by a lovely salesman Jonathan (his real name because he was a riot, honest and supremely helpful- Kudos) and she began the tedious process of pulling on and off at least eight pairs of jeans: the J Brands were the right wash but were indeed too short, another brand (Karen) I thought looked banging but April wasn’t sold. She tried a Jegging but thought it was skanky- and not “classy” skanky, which is workable but tacky skanky, which is unacceptable. We even sunk to the point of trying 7’s Kimmie (Kardashian) jeans, they were a good fit but the wrong wash, and frankly I didn’t want to contribute to the 65 million dollar empire (call me a hater and I’ll answer). So exasperated, we thanked Jonathan and, with our blood alcohol levels dangerously low for a Sunday evening we decided to abort the mission and go for cocktails. On our way out we passed by the Helmut Lang section, as we weighed in on what we thought of the designs, (both agreeing that Jersey could be a dangerous textile) I spied a dark wash, straight-leg jean. I convinced her to give it one last try. As the sales person looked for her size, a row unclothed, golden mannequins caught my eye, not because they were unclothed but because they were skeletal and suffering from the worst case of Kyphosis I had seen since the Hunchback of Notre Dame. They were hunched and hungry- oohh that’s hot!

Why is concentration camp thin chic?

As they were bare, bald, and metallic they looked like the alien creatures that step off of UFO’s. You know the ones who come to invade planet Earth to either kill off the human race or use us as host bodies. At first I found it disturbing because these forms are used to sell to us [women] but my second realization was even more frightening. Although these were inanimate objects devoid of flesh, blood and organs (perhaps why they were so thin) they were in fact not so far from the average size of living breathing models.
(this is not the actual mannequins- didn’t think to take the pic, darn!)

I understand that there are women who are naturally thin, even skinny, but they are in no sense (especially in this country) the norm. I find it disturbing is that we, [women] come in all shapes and sizes and yet there is little to no representation of that fact even when we, [real women] are being marketed to. There is no wonder why we suffer from body image issues. The marketing to real women is segregated- placed apart, it’s the Jim Crow aspect of Fashion. Seriously, a size 12 (which technically in America is still below average) is considered plus size for the fashion industry. I ask you how can women feel good about spending money on clothing if we are made to feel inadequate about our size and form through the imagery generated to represent us? We, real women are not truly considered in the aesthetic of the optimum form that these garment are designed to clothe. Personally if I’m going to buy something, I want to be able to see the possibility of myself in it, is that so wrong?

I started to look around at the women on the sales floor, both the sales women and shoppers, and no one, including my hatefully thin best friend looked like that. Who is this image that supposed to represent? The ideal? If so, then the ideal of what? Of whom? Well clearly we are all falling short. How can that image inspire one to buy a garment if when the truth of your reality faces you in the mirror of the dressing room and you see flesh on hips, and booty poking out where on the mannequin it hung limply, effortlessly down? It makes you feel less than and messes with your head.

What is more interesting is that mannequins like people actually do come in varying sizes and colors. Depending on where you shop you might well see a version of your form in plastic. I have always found it interesting that when you go into communities that are primarily African or Latino, the mannequins always have a round booty that when selling jeans (for the most part) is turned outwards to the onlooker mimicking how booty proud women often like to take pictures

(you know the booty to the camera looking over the shoulder pose “heeey”).

They are fuller forms that are familiar, and representative of the women being sold to. The question is why are these fuller mannequin forms relegated to certain areas and classes when in truth women, white, black, yellow red and mixtures of the rainbow, rich, poor or somewhere in between take on every shape and form? There are thick women on Flatbush Avenue and there are thick women on 5th Avenue. It’s just an observation.

April tried the Helmut Lang’s loved them, bought them and we never made it to the Gap. Instead we risked getting an eye gouged out by oncoming umbrellas, took the N train downtown and had our girl time over wine and salads with sides of fries! Yes I had fries, and I enjoyed them because at the end of the day, I don’t want to looked hunched and hungry, I would much prefer, healthy and happy! Cheers!

An Open Letter to My Body

Dear Body,
Where do I start? I could begin with the reality that despite everything, good, bad, thick or thin, you have always been there. Though I am sure that if you had a choice you would have left years ago, and after some of the things I have said and done to you, I would not have blamed you. For a long time I behaved like a spoilt, ungrateful brat, living with a sense of entitlement, and expectation that at times was unrealistic or disproportionate to the effort and work that I was putting into the situation. I was not compassionate in regards to the hard work and effort that you continually expelled to make my life possible. On your behalf I have to say that you have never let me down. I may have let myself down in not doing all that was required to have, or to be what I wanted, but you stalwartly plugged along handling every, and any task I set before you.

I write to you today to apologize for, and to explain (though I am sure that you already know, as you are the more authentic and intuitive part of us) what I have put you through. I make no excuses, I take the responsibility for the physical, emotional and spiritual pain I have caused you throughout our years together. I could blame it on youth or outside influences and that would be true, but then again you already know that because you have been there through it all. However I feel that would be a cop out. I am here to take responsibility for my actions and non- actions. I am no longer a child, I am a freethinking, independent woman, and I am doing my work. This you also know as you have been there as I have matured and grown into a greater understanding and appreciation of myself, and for you as a form. When I think back to the times when I cursed you, did not talk to you, could not bare to look at you, the times when I was ashamed of you and more ashamed to be seen in you I am sadden. For that I am sorry. Though harsh words got us here, I know that there are no words that can be uttered or written that can undo the damage that has been done. They stay like welted brands on the parchment of our soul, to be carried with us, all the days of our life. I only hope you can forgive me.

Where I should have been awed by your majesty and perfection in the constant rigors of the involuntary actions you perform: heart-beating, respiration, blinking, the sensory factors you house and manage, not to mention mastication, defecation, and all the other “ations” on top of all of that I actually asked you to turn-out, plié, jump, pirouette, and battement, and without complaint, and for the most part a great deal of alacrity you did it! I could feel that dance was a joy to you; it felt good to move through space with the music, with a sense of mastery and physical understanding. It was in those moments that we were both at our best. The feeling of a grande jeté, the sensation of turning (though it was always unnerving to me) was wondrous, there is nothing in the world that feels as divine and delicious as a beautiful adagio. When we danced we felt beautiful, and complete, that is until I looked in the mirror and the image reflected did not resemble the feeling of beauty I felt in my soul, and because there was no one else, nothing else to blame, I took it out on you. My thighs were too thick, my butt too big, my feet not good enough, I was not pretty, or I did not look like her (whomever she was). Suddenly almost without warning the spirit that just moments ago had taken glorious flight was now grounded in the corner, cowering beneath the mental verbal lashing I unleashed.

My Body, my Body, because you are resilient and much more compassionate then I could ever be, with incomprehensible grace and dignity you rose, undefeated and determined to be better, you took the floor again, and again and again. Whether it was an effort to prove that I was wrong about us, the desire to show me my own beauty, or just the only way you knew how to keep us alive, you consistently reached for those fleeting moments of joy and abandon through movement, even though you knew that in the end you would undoubtedly pay for your effort. Yes I know that I was not alone in this process but let me finish… I was, I am your keeper. I should have protected you, honored you and respected you more or enough to, when possible shield or sooth you from outward attacks, and I most certainly should not have joined in on the bullying.

Seldom have I thanked you. Seldom have I acknowledged that you were consistent and trustworthy. Instead of praising you for your strength and power I chastised you for looking too strong, it never occurred to me that I was rarely sick or injured because of your strength. I let others tell me things about you, I believed the horrible things they said and instead of coming to your defense, I bought into their beliefs and made them my own.

Oh I wish that you had a voice, one independent of my own, perhaps then I would have known more quickly what tyranny I was forcing you to live under. Instead you, like a child worked harder for my acceptance, to please me, to be better, to be what I wanted to be. Never did you suspect that it was a fruitless endeavor for there would never be any pleasing me, because the problem was not with you as my Body, the problem was in my head. The problem was me.

So I now beg forgiveness from you publicly, I feel that this is fitting as I publicly defamed, disparaged, degraded and like Judas betrayed you. If you could find it in your heart to accept my apology I would ask that we (as much as possible) wipe the slate clean and begin anew. I will promise to take care of you, honor you, accept, appreciate, respect and support you going forward. I know there is a lot of water under the bridge, I thoroughly expect there to be some things that may be forgiven but cannot be forgotten, and some damage is irreparable this I understand, but I am asking if we can try again. I would not blame you if you did not trust my words but you know the integrity of my intention. I cannot promise perfection, but I can promise my sincere effort. I will assuredly make more mistakes but I vow to be better. I know that it is a lot to contemplate, take your time think it over and let me know. I will be here when you want to talk. I am telling you that from this day forward I am listening, for I now realize that you do have a voice, I am that voice, I speak for you and you for me. I want you to be heard, and I want to hear.

Most humbly,


Copyright ©2011 Theresa Ruth Howard/My Body My Image