The topics that strike the most passion in us are more than likely things we’ve experienced at some point in our lives. One of those things I just can’t let slide is when a woman is called a slut or fat.

If you couldn’t guess, one of the biggest areas of growth and healing that I’ve had to look at is body positivity and sexual empowerment.

I can’t speak for others (everyone’s story is different), but I know that in my own life I’ve had to deal with a lot of slut-shaming and body-shaming growing up.

I remember learning that if you were a girl and were curious about your own sexuality then you were a whore.

I remember learning that in order to be attractive, loved and accepted meant that I could never be fat.

I remember learning that cellulite was disgusting and that I had to do everything in my power to get rid of it (which I never could because it’s NATURAL!) including starving myself, purging my food, exercising off every calorie I ate, and buying every cream or magic potion available on the market. (Because you know… cellulite meant I was unworthy of love and that something was wrong with me.)

I remember learning that if I hooked up with a guy then I was slut, and he was celebrated and congratulated… but if I didn’t “put out” then I was a frigid stuck-up-goodie-two-shoes and guys would never like me (or again… something must be wrong with me).

I remember learning that you would fit in and be “cool” if you gossiped about another person’s weight or sexual experiences. That in doing so it made you better than them and masked the internal pain you felt towards yourself.

I remember learning that if you were beautiful then other girls would hate you, and that guys would only want to sleep with you.

I remember learning that it was normal to shit-talk your own appearance, and if you were confident then you were labeled full-of-yourself or a narcissist.

I remember learning it’s not okay to talk about sex (let alone have it!) and that it was gross, dirty, or wrong.

I remember learning that my boobs were too small, my tummy was too big, and my thighs were too chubby and the only thing that I had going for me was a “great ass” and that I was “hot”. (Because no one cared if you were kind, intelligent, compassionate, or gracious).

I remember learning that sex was about giving and not receiving and that it was slutty or wrong to enjoy pleasure.

I remember learning that dressing sexy was “asking for it” or was only appropriate for skinny girls like the ones I saw in the pages of various fashion and lifestyle magazines.

The overarching theme I learned is that it’s not okay to love your body, love pleasure, and love yourself.

And I unfortunately believed these things to be true for the majority of my life.

I learned these things from personal experiences, friends/peers, watching TV/movies, the media, advertisements, and reading magazines that targeted teen girls and young women.

Like a lot of young women I was shamed for the only body I had and told that I needed to change because my worth came purely from my looks. I was shamed for being a human being and for having natural human desires, and was taught that my sexual energy was for others and not myself.

These are the messages I learned from the world and they are just a fraction of it all. I know now that these beliefs are not my own and were learned through osmosis. But when we are young we don’t necessarily have the awareness to filter out these bullshit stories.

When I finally saw clearly how destructive these beliefs were and that they were actually preventing me from experiencing love and true connection, then I made a choice to let them go. I took a good look at each one and saw them for what they were: false and limiting. They weren’t my own truth and I didn’t have to let them hold me back.

But in order to change these societal norms, I would have to live by example and do things a bit differently in my own life. It’s one thing to talk about something you believe in, but in order to actually make a difference you have to live your life in alignment with that new belief.

So I made the decision to challenge these beliefs head on by doing the scariest thing imaginable- I joined a burlesque troupe and started boudoir modeling.

Yep, that’s right… I started taking my clothes off in public and doing it from a place of empowerment.
called a slut or fat(photo by Gord Klimchuk)

Why Burlesque? I remember watching my first burlesque show and being so in awe at how unashamed, confident, playful, creative and sexy these women were! And they came in ALL shapes and sizes! It was incredibly liberating and inspiring to see these women challenge everything I had learned growing up and not give a fuck while doing it. They didn’t apologize for their bodies or for being themselves. They weren’t afraid of being called a slut or fat. I saw the Goddess in all of them shining brightly with each nipple-tassel twirl and glitter-covered butt cheek. They were loving life and having fun while they were at it!

Since they embodied my ideal expression I knew that it would be incredibly healing for me to put myself in their sparkly high-heeled shoes.

When I started to surround myself with these women who believed in sexual empowerment and body confidence I noticed a huge shift in my own beliefs. I stopped caring so much about what others thought. I stopped making decisions based on how others viewed me and I actually started respecting my body and my boundaries a lot more. I stopped hiding myself, started expressing my sexual energy, and felt at home in my body.

I found strength and confidence in expressing myself on stage. I didn’t have to hide and I felt safe to be all of me. I felt free and creative. It felt completely expansive, which is how I knew that it was the right path for me.

It helped me heal so many negative beliefs that were keeping me stuck in fear.

called a slut or fat

I’m not telling you my story because I think everyone should go out and become a burlesque dancer if they don’t feel body confidence or safe to be sexy in their skin (although if you want to, all the power to you!). Truthfully, your beliefs might not even line up with mine and that’s okay. Everyone’s story and journey is unique and you may have learned different lessons or beliefs growing up. I know that men face different issues than women, and so do naturally thin girls. I’m not negating other people’s challenges or stories by expressing my own.

But what I am asking you to do is actually look at the beliefs you have around body-image and sexuality and ask yourself are they even yours? Where did you learn them from? Are they empowering, or are they harmful to your full self-expression?

Need some steps to help you reframe your own beliefs? You can use these questions to journal and reflect on:

1. What beliefs do I have regarding my body and sexuality? (List them all)

2. Which of these beliefs do I want to keep?

3. Which of these beliefs do I want to get rid of?

4. Which of these beliefs causes me the most stress/grief/anxiety/pain?

5. What inspired action can I take that will dismantle this belief from the inside out?

I’ve found in order to truly transform and conquer these limiting beliefs, you have to actually live in alignment with your new desired mentality and surround yourself with like-minded people. You have to take action to change your ways and your thoughts. I’m not promising it will be easy (growth hardly is), but it’s one of the only ways I know to actually make a difference and change the world. Because it all starts on an individual level. You can’t change others, but you can change yourself, which has a huge ripple effect on those around you.

If you lead with love, acceptance, and courage you will without a doubt help brighten the world and heal the issues that set your heart on fire.

So you want to know how I stopped caring about being called a slut or fat?… I made a choice and put in conscious effort to stop believing those things to be true. Easier said than done, but the liberation that comes with it is so worth it.

Stay Beautiful,

Amy Meraki

 

 

 

Amy Meraki

Header Image by Prairie Ranger Photography