BuzzFeed profiles plus-size athletes

Strength is not determined by your physique; it’s instead determined by your skills and your perseverance — that’s what a new feature from BuzzFeed is proving.

In their piece called, “Here’s What It’s Like to Be a Plus-Size Athlete,” BuzzFeed staffers interview seven plus-size athletes about their respective sports and what they gain from participating in sports. From a pole dancer and marathoner to cyclists and lifters, the seven women profiled all had one thing in common: they refuse to be bound by stereotypes that perpetuate one image of athleticism.

Kristina Rodriguez, a “cyclist-yogi-baby powerlifter,” told BuzzFeed that her favorite part about her sport of choice is getting to prove people wrong.

“Women have to face so much bullshit about body image,” she said. “Men do too, don’t get me wrong, but you get extra as a woman in sports. People have doubted my athleticism, but I live for the look on their faces when they see how fast or good I am at whatever sport.”

Although some have had to prove naysayers wrong, long-distance runner Olivia Frempong shared with BuzzFeed that she thinks that more diverse definitions of what it means to be athletic are being increasingly accepted.

“I think the fitness community is finally realizing that you don’t have to be a certain shape or size to accomplish things,” she said. “When I first started to run, I was told that I wouldn’t be able to do it, or that I would get injured — but now, those same people are asking me for tips on how to get started.”

Show ’em who’s boss, ladies.

To read the full feature, click here.

 

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show gets makeover from BuzzFeed

Watching women walk up and down a runway in lingerie may not sound all too exciting, but when it comes to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, all eyes are on the angels — fall 2015’s show alone garnered 22.79 million viewers. While the runway show may attract high viewership, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s democratic in terms of the image of beauty portrayed.

That’s why BuzzFeedBuzzFeed decided to take matters into their own hands, recreating the fashion show with models of all shapes, sizes, heights, skin tones and circumstances. The end result was a nine-and-a-half-minute video detailing the process of getting ready to walk to the runway, the actual fashion show and reflections from the models who strut their stuff almost in the buff.

One model, Daysha, discussed at the beginning of the video her relationship with her body. “If my body wasn’t perfect, then no one was going to love me, no one was going to think that I was a valuable human being or that I could contribute anything,” she said.

As the models are getting dressed and made up, some took the time to share what they hoped to get out of the experience. A model named YB told BuzzFeed, “I want to learn for myself that I can be confident in my own body.”

All of their hopes and fears were put to the test when they set foot on the runway. And of course, these ladies killed it.

“I hope this can change the narrative of how women are viewed in the media,” said one of the models, while another shared that walking the runway in lingerie gave her a newfound confidence.

“I honestly do feel a lot better about myself,” a model said. “When it really comes down to it, you have to accept and love yourself, and I feel like this whole experience helped me do more of that.”

To watch these ladies slay their VS Fashion Show 2.0, check out the video here.

Threads that mend

There are threads other than medical stitches that facilitate the healing process — that’s what a new project from the Starlight Children’s Project of Canada is proving.

According to Buzzfeed, the organization has partnered with local fashion designers to bring stylish hospital gowns to hospitals around the country. Buzzfeed reports as of July 12, the project — called “Warb+Robes” — has delivered about 100 fashionable gowns to children and teens at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

While Senior Vice President of Development at Starlight Trevor Dicaire told BuzzFeed that he hoped the project would make a difference, he said he was “blown away” by the positive response, saying that their personalities were “transformed” as a result of the gowns.

“Seeing the smiles, hearing the giggles, watching the excitement… I knew we had to bring this program to as many hospitalized teens in Canada as possible,” he told Buzzfeed.

Already eyeing over 130 hospitals in Canada to bring Warb+Robes to, their goal is to serve young patients, says Buzzfeed, while also helping them maintain a sense of hope and a sense of self in an environment that can often be devoid of such sentiments.

Perhaps Dicaire summed up the project’s aim best when he told Buzzfeed, “It’s not easy being a teen and it’s even tougher to be a teen suffering with a serious illness.”

A beach body for everybody

Summer 2016 will surely be known as the summer of body positivity. With recent movements by both Swimsuits for All and author Jennifer Weiner, there is a push to break down the longstanding notion of a ‘beach body.’ But Buzzfeed’s latest video takes body positivity to a new level, this time, including men.

According to the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed published an article on July 5 following two employees as they debunk the concept of the ‘beach body.’ In an adjoining video called, “WTF Is A Beach Body?”, Buzzfeed’s Nyla Wissa and Kane Diep share why they think they don’t have a ‘beach body.’

“Even though I was always told in my household to love my body, the way media photoshops women’s bodies has had an impact on me,” Wissa said, according to the Huffington Post.

Diep offered another perspective, says the Huffington Post, saying, “Especially in the gay community, with images of fit men with [built] abs and torsos and shoulders and arms… you look at yourself, and it’s very average, and it feels very unsexy.”

Both pointed to one factor that affects the way they see themselves: the images projected by the media. Starting off with a host of magazine covers promoting ways to achieve a “perfect beach body,” the Huffington Post says the video shares that “only 5 percent of American women fit the “ideal woman’s body” seen in ads, while men and women both tend to score their physical appearance around 6.4 on a 10 point scale.”

To resuscitate their body-positivity, the pair embarks on a “photo therapy” shoot, according to the Huffington Post, in which they hit the beach in their swimsuits and posed for a photographer in order to learn to love their so-called imperfections.

While Wissa and Diep admitted that they were rather nervous at the outset of the photoshoot, the duo came to appreciate those things they once considered insecurities.

When asked if the pictures make her feel like she has a beach body, Wissa said, “I go to the beach, and I am in my body, so yeah, I have a beach body.”

To watch the full video, click here.

Dunham drops new book

Looking for a good book to add to your summer reading list? Search no more, because Lena Dunham just surprised everyone with a new release just in time for your first beach reading day of the season.

According to Buzzfeed, the Girls star and showrunner dropped a new book called Is It Evil Not to Be Sure? on Tuesday, May 17. A “collection of entries from Lena Dunham’s diary — or what she called her ‘Creative Snippets and Observations Journal’ — from the fall of 2005 and the spring of 2006,” Amazon says the book is a “candid, chaotic and occasionally poetic snapshot of a young person becoming an adult.”

While the book’s release was both covert and exciting, perhaps more exciting is its charitable ties: Amazon says the profits from the book’s sales will benefit Girls Write Now, a community of female writers that support and guide high school girls in developing their voices through writing.

Speaking exclusively to Buzzfeed on the launch of her second title, Dunham explained that she discovered the journal entries on an only hard drive after recovering from surgery. While sifting through the words of her youth, the actress said that she was proud of how she documented her formative years, offering:

“I have always believed that women chronicling their own lives, even (or especially) at their most mundane, is a radical act. That’s why I thought the diaries might be worth sharing as a short book, with proceeds going to Girls Write Now and their mission to give young women the tools to tell their own stories.”

To purchase a digital copy of Dunham’s book, click here.

 

The ‘Sheroe’ Barbie

It’s not every day that we see a Barbie doll modeled after real-life successful businesswomen. But on Sunday, Dec. 6, Barbie announced the release of a new doll commemorating one such successful female.

According to Buzzfeed, Mattel announced on Sunday that a doll that was created in the likeness of Selma director Ava DuVernay for their line of “Sheroes” dolls unveiled in April was finally available for purchase this week.

The news caused fans to erupt in applause and praise on Twitter; Many congratulated Mattel’s move to honor the director, while others explained that this item will be making its way onto their Christmas lists.

DuVernay spoke to Buzzfeed News about the response to her doll, explaining that people are responding to the diversity the doll represents. “It’s about the full spectrum of who we are. It’s not enough even to have one black Barbie … because black women are not a monolith. We have all different kinds of hair, all different kinds of occupations, all different kinds of passions, so I think what folks might be responding to is the variance,” she said in her Monday interview.

Buzzfeed explained that the doll is particularly important to DuVernay for two reasons. First, the proceeds are donated to two of her favorite charities — ColorofChange.org, an organization that serves to “strengthen Black America’s political vote,” as well as Witness.org, which trains activist to safely and ethically use video as a means to advocate for human rights.

Second, each doll comes with a very important accessory: a director’s chair. “That single accessory has the potential to encourage an entire generation of young girls to follow in DuVernay’s footsteps; it’s a level of tangible encouragement to enter a world long dominated by white men that DuVernay didn’t experience when she was a child,” wrote Buzzfeed‘s Jarett Wieselman.

DuVernay reflected on the importance of including the director’s chair with the doll, and summed up its significance in this way: “I want more girls to be able to see themselves behind the camera creating images we all enjoy and I want to call attention to the fact that women directors are here all over the world. When we say there’s a dearth of women directors, it’s not that there’s a lack of women who direct, it’s a lack of opportunities and access for women to direct and be supported in that. I hope that this can contribute to that conversation as well.”

And it seems as though it is already having a widespread impact: NBC reported that the doll went on sale on Monday, Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. Within an hour, Barbie tweeted that the doll had sold out, redirecting consumers to Amazon to purchase the limited-edition doll. Shortly thereafter, Amazon was also sold out, forcing fans to resort to eBay where the $65 doll was listed for as much as $350.

But for DuVernay, it’s not about the sales. It’s about allowing girls to do what she does best — tell stories.

“I spent a whole 12 years helping other people tell their stories as a publicist, so just to be able to go and write and get behind the camera, that’s my thing,” DuVernay told Buzzfeed. “That’s what I used to do with Barbie — just sit around all day with my sisters telling stories with our Barbies. And if I get to dress up on the side and have a Barbie and go to the Oscars, that’s fun too — but for me, I could tell these stories forever and am just glad I have the opportunity to do it.”

 

Inscribed With Love

Standing in the middle of market wearing nothing but a blindfold and a bikini sounds like the stuff of every woman’s worst nightmare. But in reality, it proved to be quite the opposite for one Idaho woman.

Inspired by a project from an Australian group known as The Liberators International, Buzzfeed reports that Idaho-native Amy Pence-Brown decided to bare it all for the sake of self-love. Pence-Brown, the founder of the Boise Rad Fat Collective, a group she describes as “socially engaged Idahoans of all shapes and sizes who are fed up with mainstream media and society telling us what a valuable body should do\be\act\look like,” decided to stand in the middle of a market in Boise in a bathing suit and a blindfold, asking passersby to draw a heart on her body to promote self-love.

Within a few minutes, Buzzfeed says that people began to stop by Pence-Brown and participate by drawing hearts and even writing kind messages on her body. Some even gave her hugs and kisses while “thanking her for her fearlessness and strength.”

Pence-Brown told of the experience on her blog, saying “I was scared that I might get asked to leave by the police or that people would yell terrible things at me or that no one would draw a heart on my body and I’d stand there alone and crying for minutes that felt like hours. Well, none of that came true. Except for the crying part.”

Pence-Brown shared the aim of her experiment with Buzzfeed, explaining that she hoped to inspire people make peace with their bodies, something she said she learned to do years ago.

On her own blog, she discussed the potential of learning to love ourselves, saying, “We can’t truly love one another until we fully love ourselves. And once we do, I guarantee, that together we can move mountains.”

Thank you, Amy Pence-Brown, for so boldly and fearlessly teaching us to love ourselves and be at peace with who we are. You are truly an inspiration to us all.

To watch the video and read more about her experience, click here.

The Be-You-tiful Truth

Many a pop song sets to music the idea that women don’t (and shouldn’t) know they’re beautiful — that is, until the male crooner points it out to their self-doubting muse.

This is exactly the type of pop culture trope Daysha Edewi demolishes in her recent video, “What If I Knew I Was Beautiful?”

According to The Huffington Post, the Buzzfeed writer and director references songs like One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” Ne Yo’s “Let Me Love You” and Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved” that propagate this idea. Her spoken word poem serves as a reminder to women of all ages that women don’t need men to validate their looks or their self-esteems.

Edewi goes on to point out that if women believe they’re beautiful before it’s pointed out to them by men, women are thus deemed “vain,” or worse.

The Huffington Post reports that Edewi explained on her Tumblr page that her poem is mean to draw attention to the glut of pop songs that claim that a woman is beautiful so long as they don’t know it. Edewi continued, saying “then the only time it is ok for me to see and own my beauty is when a man recognizes it.”

But as Edewi so eloquently pointed out towards the end of her poem, “There is no need to love your body with trepidation / Because that bottomless pit of hesitation that you feel / Are only false expectations appearing real.”

So we shouldn’t let fear keep us from loving ourselves, says Edewi, because “every part of you is the best part of you.”

Amen! Thank you, Daysha Edewi, for teaching us that women don’t need permission to love themselves. You are truly living the inspired life!

To watch the whole video, click here. You don’t want to miss it!

Modeling Their Point

Yesterday, I stumbled upon an article from Buzzfeed in which six of their female staff members decided to recreate photos of Victoria’s Secret models wearing the brand’s latest swimsuits. Each staffer chose the swimsuit and image they wanted to recreate, and they not only shared the final product, they also shared their thoughts while modeling the swimsuits.

Several of the staffers expressed their discomfort and uneasiness about being photographed in a bathing suit, explaining how comparing themselves to the models made them feel especially uncomfortable about their bodies and their looks. However, at the end of the process, each staff member felt that the experience was positive overall, concluding that not only are we all beautiful in our own ways, but also that true beauty has no definitive size or shape.

While the Buzzfeed staff reached a positive conclusion, many readers seemed to be less-than-appreciative of the piece. Several commenters immediately railed the staff for using the term “real women” when referring to themselves, claiming that by using the term, they were labeling the models as “aliens,” as one commenter phrased it.

Although the commenters are correct in that the models are no less “real” than the Buzzfeed staff, it seems that they are missing the overall point of the article. The point of the piece was to show that no matter what size or shape a woman is, they can still be beautiful in a swimsuit; they don’t have to be a model’s size to feel like they can look good in a swimsuit, but rather they are already beautiful as they are. This was not about alienating the models or making them out to be anything less than ‘real women.’ Just because models have slender bodies does not mean they aren’t ‘real women.’ Nor are slender women that we see everyday less ‘real’ just because they are skinny. All women of all shapes, sizes, heights and skin tones are ‘real.’

What these six Buzzfeed staff members set out to prove was that we as women don’t have to feel obligated to look like models in order to feel comfortable in a swimsuit. After modeling the swimsuits, one staffer even said, “You don’t have to look like the model to rock the suits!” Another commented, saying “We may not all be models, but the world is a runway for ALL of us.” The point of the article, then, was not to throw shade at models or skinny women; the point was to show that all women are beautiful in their own ways, whether we are a carbon copy of a Victoria’s Secret model, a size 2, a size 12 or a size 22.

The last sentence of the article says, “Remember, no matter your size or your shape…you’re fabulous.” This is the the point of the article — that all women of all shapes and sizes are fabulous and beautiful, and the six staffers certainly modeled this point.

What do you think about this piece? I’d love to hear from you, so drop be a comment below!

XO,

Nicole