Embrace Your Perfectly Imperfect Self with Body Positivity Expert Emily Lauren Dick

IAOL 27 | Body Positivity


The pressure to look perfect–and be perfect–is exhausting and expensive on many levels. In the quest to live up to impossibly high beauty standards, we often squander an incredible amount of time, mental energy, and financial resources. I’ve found that our mental and physical health pay a huge price when we feel judged, rejected, and shamed if we are different from ridiculously idealized norms. When we look in the mirror, we often see ourselves through a lens of toxic comparison–a negative self-evaluation based on airbrushed images from social media, magazines, TV, and more. Although it’s wonderful to want to look and feel our best, self-esteem and overall mental health take a huge hit when societal forces result in objectification, self-doubt, shame, and self-loathing. Although we are often raised to believe otherwise, we are far more than our looks. The movements of body positivity and body neutrality are bringing much-needed doses of acceptance, compassion, and real change into society. It’s time for more empowering conversations about self-love and letting go of the shame-induced drive for perfection. Join Dr. Carla and expert Emily Lauren Dick for a captivating conversation about body positivity, self-love, and joy of creating lasting change.


Books by Dr. Carla Manly:

Date Smart: Transform Your Relationships and Love Fearlessly

Joy From Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend

Aging Joyfully: A Woman’s Guide to Optimal Health, Relationships, and Fulfillment for Her 50s and Beyond

The Joy of Imperfect Love


Connect with Dr. Carla Manly:

Website: https://www.drcarlamanly.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drcarlamanly/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/drcarlamanly/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drcarlamanly

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carla-marie-manly-8682362b/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@dr.carlamariemanly8543

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@dr_carla_manly


Book by Emily Lauren Dick:

Body Positive: A Guide to Loving Your Body


Connect with Emily Lauren Dick:

Websites: https://www.happydaughter.com/ , https://www.bootstrappedwoman.com/

Watch the episode here


Listen to the podcast here


Embrace Your Perfectly Imperfect Self with Body Positivity Expert Emily Lauren Dick

Let Go of Idealistic Beauty Standards to Foster Self-Love and Acceptance!

The pressure to look perfect and be perfect is exhausting and expensive on many levels. In the quest to live up to impossibly high beauty standards, we often squander an incredible amount of time, mental energy, and financial resources. I’ve found that our mental and physical health pays a huge price when we feel judged, rejected, and shamed if we are different from ridiculously idealized norms. When we look in the mirror, we often see ourselves through a lens of toxic comparison, a negative self-evaluation based on airbrushed images from social media, magazines, TV, and so much more.

Although it’s wonderful to want to look and feel our best, self-esteem and overall mental health take a huge hit when societal forces result in objectification, self-doubt, shame, and self-loathing. Although we are often raised to believe otherwise, we are far more than our looks. The movements of body positivity and body neutrality are bringing much-needed doses of acceptance, compassion, and real change into society. It’s time for more empowering conversations about self-love and letting go of the shame-induced drive for perfection.

In this episode, we’ll focus on this reader’s real-life question, “I’ve suffered from body dysmorphia since I was a preteen. Both my parents are type A and very appearance-focused. They constantly pressured me to eat less, exercise more, and lose my baby fat. I grew up being ashamed of my body but I realize I’ll never be a stick-thin person. I’m naturally curvy. I was diagnosed with bulimia nervosa and have more or less recovered. I can’t stop comparing myself to the model-type people on social media. I feel like I’ve tried everything to get past this so I wonder if you have any suggestions.” That question is the focus of this episode.


IAOL 27 | Body Positivity


In this episode, I’m joined by a very special guest, Emily Lauren Dick, who will be sharing her considerable expertise on body image and the role shame plays in women’s lives. Welcome to the show, Emily. It’s such a joy to have you.

Thank you so much for having me. I’m happy to be here.

I’m so excited. Before we dive into this truly important topic, could you tell our readers a little bit about what makes you you?

I am a published author of a book called Body Positive: A Guide to Loving Your Body. I photographed 75 women in the book. It’s a beautiful introduction to body image. I am also a creative marketer and an activist who is passionate about body image, women’s issues, and taming shame.

The pressure to look perfect is exhausting and expensive. In the push to live up to impossible beauty standards, we often squander tons of time, energy, and money. Join Dr. Carla and body positivity expert Emily Lauren Dick for an honest chat about… Click To Tweet

I love the piece about taming shame. That is wonderful. I have a copy of your book and it’s exquisite. I am wowed by the level of photography in the book and the vulnerability of the women who showed up in all different sizes, shapes, and types. I don’t want to do a giveaway on the book on what’s there but the photography is beautiful. The women are amazing. They wanted to show up to support the message of body positivity. It’s a little off topic but could you tell our readers a little bit about that particular book and the women who wanted to be part of it?

Writing the book was the easiest part. The hardest part was getting people who wanted to participate in the photographic element of the book. My goal for it was to include women unedited but also happy. A lot of the books I’ve seen promoting unique body sizes are very demure. I wanted to show the fun, happiness, and joy that we can feel in our bodies. My only requirement was that they were White. They could wear makeup or not wear makeup. It was to be themselves, do their hair how they wanted, and show up honestly as their most authentic selves.

It was tricky to get women of a variety of different body types to be photographed in nothing but their underwear or bathing suits but I was able to get 75 women to do it. It was such a lovely experience. It was so unique to each woman. For some women, it was very healing, empowering, and scary but they did it anyway. It was a fantastic experience to be able to capture so many different body types but also personalities and bring this book to life so that young girls and women can have a piece of media that makes them feel good because there’s probably someone in there who reminds them of themselves.

Sometimes we see books on body positivity. Most of us are familiar with books that have photographs of very grim phased models looking perfect in their bikinis, gowns, or their nothingness. It’s so perfect. Most of us aren’t 6-foot-tall or with long hair, blue eyes, big stomach, and big boobs. This elegant build is the traditional clothes-hanger type that people who want to promote selling products, that’s what they promote. They want people of every age to look like this ideal 16 or 17-year-old, even when they’re pretending that the model is 25 or 28.

Often, we are looking at models in their teens. Your book takes away from that idealized image of being perfect. When you see models in real life, they’re not perfect either. They happen to look good on camera, all the tricks of that, and the makeup. Some of them are extraordinarily beautiful physically but so is everyone else. We have been trained that this brunette with the hazel eyes or this person with the deep bronze skin, high cheekbones, and all of that is perfection, instead of seeing imperfect bodies as being the ideal.

We are all imperfect. Our breasts are not the same size. Our stomachs are not meant to be perfectly flat. Our skin is often not perfect and our curves. It’s hard to be a woman in our society because sometimes curves are in and curves are out, and a flat chest is in and a huge chest is in. What’s a woman to do when these standards are constantly moving? Even if the standards were static, it makes no sense to me that all women are meant to fit into this one mold and that it’s normal.

I happened to go see Barbie as an experiment because I was interested in seeing it. Not only being immersed in it but I had gave a lot of expert opinions on the Barbie movie to different magazines. I loved so much of it but there was the part when Barbie was coming out and she was in that perfect outfit. Everybody is looking at her as she’s going down the beach. You could see the men looking at her like, “What a perfect specimen.” That’s not too different from what we often see in this world.

You can be out with people and there could be a man with a woman walking next to him and he’s wowed at the 16, 17, or 18-year-old, whoever’s walking by. We have created this idea in our society that that’s normal and okay. It’s lovely to see lovely people of every gender and appreciate beauty. Why can we not appreciate the beauty of all types? Not just this one particular cookie-cutter mold. I find myself going out on walks and seeing a 70-year-old woman going, “She’s beautiful,” or a mom with three kids crawling over her like, “She’s beautiful.”

I’m a big proponent of saying that we are all imperfect. Let’s get rid of this idea as best we can that this mold is the idea that we should all have from birth forward. People of any gender should aspire to look this way. Who benefits the people who sell the products or push people into anorexia, bulimia, self-loathing, anxiety, or depression? You can tell this is a pretty big topic for me and for so many of my clients and the people that I know. I’m going to take it to you, the expert, to dive in here.

What you were talking about Barbie’s walking down the street and all the men are looking at her is something that is called objectification in our society. Women are seen as objects of male desire. We are brought up in this world as girls and young women to know that our worth is dependent on our appearance. We internalize that. There’s something called the male gaze, which is this feeling that we are the objects of male desire. It’s something that becomes so ingrained in us that we begin to self-survey.

Body positivity has profound effects on mental and physical health. Join Dr. Carla and body positivity expert Emily Lauren Dick for a captivating discussion about self-love, acceptance, shame, and the changes we can make to embrace our naturally… Click To Tweet

Even if there is no man around, we are so hyper-aware of how we are appearing. That affects so many different things about how we feel about our bodies and our body image. You could be sitting down and all you can be doing is thinking about the roles that your skin is making in your body. You look down and you’re self-conscious so you stand up a little bit straighter. You suck in. These are things that are so ingrained in our upbringing as girls and women. It is seen as normal but not something normal. That’s why it’s so important that we normalize normal bodies in this world so that we can start thinking of ourselves as so much more than the way we look.


IAOL 27 | Body Positivity


It’s so important to pop in and mention here that men too suffer from not objectification in the way that women suffer from. I see it as a constant threat for many women. They feel, “I’m not good enough. I’m not accepted. I’m not going to be loved.” That’s where the threat piece comes in. If we don’t feel loved and desirable, that makes us not feel very safe. It’s something that also affects men.

I was reading about the surge in men who are having their legs changed to increase the length of their legs and thigh implants. They take so many supplements sometimes if they’re into bodybuilding and making their body. Not that we don’t want to be strong and feel good in our skin but sometimes, men and women end up taking vast amounts of supplements and things that aren’t healthy for us so that we can be either super thin and tiny or very big and gargantuan like a real man should be. Real men also come in all shapes and sizes.

To add to that point, men are also taught that they are supposed to objectify women. They feel that their partner may need to reflect those attributes to make themselves appear more socially acceptable in our world. That’s something that comes into play in this whole gender and body image. As well, there are not enough studies pertaining to what men are going through in terms of body image.

My research is much more focused on women but it is something that people have asked me some questions on. There’s not a whole lot out there because of toxic masculinity and this idea that it’s like, “We’re going to ignore that.” That doesn’t happen to men but it’s very much prevalent. The whole world needs to accept that imperfect bodies are the norm.

The whole world just needs to accept that imperfect bodies are the norm. Click To Tweet

Before we go to the reader’s question, which is such a beautiful, very deep, and unfortunately, not uncommon flavor to that question but when we look at the part where you said, and I can’t not dive into it, “Men are taught to objectify women,” that could be its own episode. I’d love for you to touch on that because we often miss that.

Some women love being objectified by men. It’s important to them. That’s how they feel good surge but what do you believe we do to teach our men to objectify women so that readers who don’t want to objectify women can consciously let go of some of those behaviors for themselves and the kids that they’re raising?

To be honest, it’s almost sometimes what we’re not doing. When we hear comments being made about women, it’s normalized. When a husband says to their wife, “You look fat in that. You should lose some weight,” there needs to be more conversation going on there, whether it’s the woman or someone else is stepping in and saying, “Your body is nobody else’s business. Fat is not a bad thing.” We need to have these conversations with children at a young age.

It’s so deeply embedded in the media that we consume as children. It’s our job as parents to become aware of these things and start having those conversations with them. With my young children, I am constantly putting pause on TVs and movies going, “What you heard there, we’re going to talk about that.” It’s what’s not being said in these things. We’re normalizing this behavior that men are the watchers of women and women’s job is to get thin, look good, and crimp. It’s all the things that we’re not saying, in my opinion.

A takeoff from that, it’s such a critical piece if we can start nipping this in the bud proactively. You’re right. A lot of times, it begins not only in childhood and that’s a piece for parents to watch. What are the messages you’re giving your child? Is it, “You must be thin or nothing. You must be perfect or nothing and this is what perfect looks like. Watch the Disney movies and be one of those perfect princesses, except be a little bit more like this or that?”

We look at the messages that parents give children and this is where this begins. Also, the media that children are exposed to without parents weighing in after that and saying, “You don’t look like a princess so and so. That’s okay. You are so beautiful as you are.” What’s important here is healthy and feeling good in your skin. Not the weight on the scale or the size that you’re a size 0 or size 2 but how do you feel in your size genes? If you feel good, that’s a good thing. Looking at males and the messages, it’s what we don’t say.

I think of someone I know and it used to be an issue where they’d say, “Look at that woman with that big butt.” They’d take a photograph of a woman as we were walking around and I was like, “No. This is objectification. Don’t do that in my presence. I hope that you learn from that and don’t do it when you’re in other people’s presence.” Women are not objects. If a woman chooses to become an object of her own, that’s her choice. As a whole, we want to be able to look at people not as though they are something to be uggled and consumed but as an individual who has rights.

It’s also talking about things that are non-physical qualities, especially with young children. It’s important to emphasize not just appearance-based issues with young girls, for example. Talk about their smarts, kindness, and how funny they are. We tend to do that more with boys than we do with girls. That sets a precedent as well for how we learn this objectification and the objectifier mentality.

It’s important to talk about non-physical qualities, especially with young children. We need to emphasize more than just appearance-based issues, especially with young girls. Click To Tweet

We are so focused on, “You’re so cute, you little girl. Let’s do your hair and put you in a pretty dress.” Those things are fine but we also have to prioritize that there is more to young girls than that and the same with boys. They need to be exposed to being applauded for things that are not tough or strong. They also need to be reminded that empathy, kindness, and things like that are very important and that will help.

You are so accurate. I think of the many times I’ve been around parents, both moms and dads but often it’s the dad who’s saying, “My daughter is so beautiful. Daddy’s little princess. She’s so beautiful,” or even as they age, “Honey, you look so beautiful.” You’re right. It perpetuates the idea that that’s what’s important, your beauty. Rather than saying, “You are so creative, strong, and talented. Look at what you’re doing. Look at that cartwheel. What flexibility you have.”

You’re right. We don’t do that with little boys. We don’t put the little boy in his clothing at school and say, “You’re a stud. You’re so handsome. You look like Prince Charming.” Instead, we say, “You’re good at math. You’re so strong. You’re creative. You’re all of these things.” We have to be careful of our verbiage with boys because sometimes we promote, “You’re tough. You’re a real boy.” Part of it is so important to look at the linguistics. I love that you paused on that.

You have such good information. The reason we could probably make twenty episodes out of this is because our bodies are our homes. We wake up in them and live with them every day. It gives me some tears when we go to sleep with them. If we wake up not loving our skin and move through the day not loving this beautiful home that we’ve been given, whatever its shape or size, and go to sleep, loathing it, that’s a terrible way to live, yet it’s so ubiquitous.

I talk in my first book, Joy from Fear, about this voice of toxic comparison. The minute we start comparing ourselves to other people, I see one good reason for comparing ourselves and that’s to say, “Look at that person running. They’re a fast runner. I like that. I’d like to learn to run like that. Look at that red color. Next time I go and buy a sweater, I’d like a sweater that’s that beautiful color and have it on me.”

We’re comparing ourselves and saying, “Look at that runner. They are svelte, thin, and strong. I’m ugly and fat.” That’s toxic. The same thing with the sweater. You happen to be wearing a red sweater and I say, “I love that sweater. It’s beautiful. I can just leave that be.” Instead of saying, “My eyes and hair are not like Emily’s. Maybe if I get that sweater, I’ll look like Emily.”

That’s what advertisers do. They treat us as thinking that by buying that dress, we are going to look like that model, feel better, and love ourselves. As the sweater comes in the mail, we put it on and we don’t look like the model. Not only is our purse and bank accounts lighter but then our self-esteem is lighter because somehow, we were sold the idea that by purchasing that makeup, dress, shoes, skin fixer, or shampoo, we are going to look like the person who sold it to us.

Advertisers are very tricky and we are somewhat gullible when it comes to that. With the reader’s question and the fact that she’s struggling, it sounds like she lives in a lot of shame. With her body, it’s not this stick-thin ideal that her parents probably grabbed from societal expectations like the rest of us. What would you say to her?

It was Brené Brown who said, “The antidote to shame is talking about our shame and sharing it.” She is doing the right thing by connecting with you and talking about this shame because it loses so much power when we put it out there into the universe and start talking about it. The other thing is it sounds like they’re starting to recognize that their upbringing and the things that they’ve been told their whole life is not quite right.

The shame loses its power when we put it out there into the universe and start talking about it. Click To Tweet

For me, one of the biggest steps in becoming more body-positive is learning to think critically about these thoughts. There’s something that I love and it is this idea that the first thought is what you’re socially conditioned to think. Your second thought is what you get to choose to think. It becomes almost a process when these thoughts pop up in your brain. It takes a lot of practice to feel better but the more you challenge these negative thoughts, the better you’ll start to feel about yourself because you realize that these thoughts are social conditioning.

The other thing that’s important is reconnecting with your body, removing this idea that appearance and health are connected because health can refer to what’s going on in your brain, the things that you’re fueling your body with, and the things that you’re doing to keep your body healthy. We need to focus on joyful movement and intuitive eating. What are our bodies saying? The thing with people who have struggled for so long, they’re so disconnected from what their bodies need.

It’s finding that reconnection, whether it starts through self-care or doing something you enjoy. If you hate going to the gym, don’t go to the gym. Go for a walk. Do something enjoyable. Separate this idea that you need to look a certain way by doing certain things. You have to rediscover yourself and find out what makes you happy.

You make it so simple when we tend to look at our thoughts. Let’s give an example here and work with me on it, please. Our reader is looking at an image on social media. She felt fine. She had a good breakfast. She scrolled through social media, saw a bombshell bikini body there, and went, “That’s not me. I am not that stick. I don’t have those abs, that butt, face, and size. Maybe I’m 5’8” and that girl is 5’6”. I want to look like her.”

Let’s pause and look at that thought, which in the thought if we distill it is essentially, “I should be ashamed. I should not feel good about myself because I don’t look like this image that happened to pop up on my screen.” More of those images will pop up because social media learns and it knows that I’m watching more of these so it’s going to give me more of these.

That’s another tip. Stop looking at those images because they’ll stop giving them to you. Social media detox. How would you ask her to change all of those? We have at least three negative thoughts right there. She’ll become not critical of herself but a critical thinker and observer of those thoughts. She can choose thought replacement. Would you share three thought replacements, please?

The first thing too when a negative thought pops up is I like to ask the question, “Is this thought true? Is it true all of the time?” It takes you to a place where you can remember feeling good in your body. We all have at least one moment in our lives where we felt good, whether it was wearing a nice pair of jeans or a nice dress that felt good on us. Bring yourself into that moment and then you can start to replace those thoughts with something else.

A replacement thought was, “I felt strong in my body that day when I did a twenty-minute bike ride around the block. It was so fun that I got to experience seeing so many different sites.” It’s taking that negative thought and turning it into something positive but also reminding yourself that appearance is not the only important thing. You’re living your life and focused on other things. You’re not focused on your body in that moment.

Another thought could be, “I’m not the only one that feels insecure. Sometimes, I wonder if this person has ever felt insecure as well. This is their highlight reel. I don’t get to see the negative side of things. I know that she’s not better than me or they’re not better than me. Let me think about a time when I felt good. I felt amazing when I got an A-plus on my test and I felt so good. I posted it on my social media and that was a proud moment. I know that I am more than my body in that moment.”

Another option is, “It felt good when I was able to walk into the library and donate some books that I hadn’t read in a while. It felt good to be able to move my body and do something good for this world and community while I was doing it. My body did a great thing that day. I feel good about being kind. I know that kindness is more important than the way I look.”

We can all find those moments. I felt so great. When we see that bikini body image, we go, “I felt so great in my body when I was able to give my five-year-old this big hug and they hugged me back. I felt so great when I was able to go visit my mom.” We can keep taking this to, “Let’s be positive about the gifts our body gives us.” It’s the fact that we’re breathing, seeing, and able to talk. We have these brains that are working in amazing ways. One of your big pieces I’m getting is that let’s stop the huge, intense focus on appearance. We are so much more than the exterior of this beautiful body we are in.

Readers, behind Emily are these beautiful luscious lips with these perfectly imperfect white teeth. The teeth are biting the lip. To me, it speaks volumes about how when we’re biting our lips, we are anxious, nervous, shamed, and apprehensive. I’m seeing this image and it’s so lovely but big. The power of shame erodes self-esteem, self-confidence, self-love, and the ability to show up as an empowered individual on the planet. We want to start looking at shame.

Readers, if you don’t know the difference, embarrassment and shame are two different things. Embarrassment is, “I did something in public. I fell. I did something funny at work that I’m not proud of because everybody saw me spill the coffee.” That’s embarrassment. It’s fleeting. Generally, it tends to go away. Shame is the sense of, “I am defective as a human being. I am ashamed of who I am.”

This sense of shame is often perpetuated by expectations from others, society, and the self and results in so many forms of many types of mental health issues, whether it’s substance abuse, alcoholism, or eating disorders. We do something to try to quell that voice that is saying, “You are not enough. You are not pretty, thin, smart, and good enough.”

We do things to try to get that nasty voice to shut up but when we act out in ways that aren’t healthy, what happens? That voice of shame gets louder. I agree that it’s important for us to talk about shame but I go one step further to say, “We want to talk about shame with people who respect discussions about shame.”

If we’re trying to talk about our shame to someone who’s used to objectifying women or anybody, we may end up coming away from that discussion if we’re not strong on our feet yet, feeling worse. We want to make wise use of whom we share these vulnerabilities with these beautiful kernels of who we are and our journey. Please share about shame and its effect on women.

The definition of shame I like to use is the fear of being ourselves. Shame is so deeply rooted in the evolution of humans. At one point, we very much needed shame to keep us alive and in society. It stopped us from going off and doing things that when it grunts the grain, we all needed each other to stay alive. Shame is often used as a tool of manipulation in marketing. It is used to control how people act and get them to buy certain things. It’s also something that has been passed down in us.

We don’t always realize that that shame is something that we can get out of. If you were body-shamed as a child by your mother, you may grow up to be a mother who body-shames your daughter. It’s one of those things that we have to become aware of and challenge to make it go away. Shame does lose its power. We have to talk about it to the right people.

Whether that’s talking to a therapist or someone who understands what you’re going through or someone who has been through certain things, that is going to help because the more we hide, the more we stay away from people, and the more harm it does in terms of us being able to get out of the deep end with that.

As women, it’s so important that we talk to each other about things, like the things that we do to our bodies to appear a certain way. I remember growing up and it was like, “Girls don’t do this and that. I don’t do that.” We all know you do those things because they’re normal human things. When we talk about that and normalize those things, especially for women, it makes it okay to be ourselves.



Let’s pivot for a minute because we know that this reader’s question is about her parents shaming her. Although their intentions were likely very good. They wanted her to be healthy and fit. They didn’t know other ways of approaching the issue. What about someone who has a partner, whether they’re dating, a love partner, or a friend group, where shaming continues in overt or subtle ways?

Imagine a romantic partner who says, “Aren’t your breasts a little too big? Isn’t your belly a little too curvy? Isn’t your butt or calves too big?” What would you recommend for that person other than telling the individual who’s shaming them to stop it? “Please, go do some self-work so that you can stop objectifying me and other people.” What else other than that straightforward response like, “This is not okay. This is not how we conduct ourselves?” What else would you recommend?

It’s a big responsibility to take on what someone else is doing in your relationship. It’s hard. Finding a source of validation for how you’re feeling is super important, whether it’s a friend or therapist. You need to feel validated in knowing that their behavior is not okay. It’s not your fault. That is an important part of getting out of the shame pool.

The other thing is you need to rebuild and build up your self-esteem and confidence. That is going to look a little bit different for each person. It could be dressing comfortably for some people. For other people, it’s writing gratitude lists and focusing on the things that you do like about yourself. We can go back into thinking critically and challenging some of these thoughts when they come up. If we were calling ourselves these things in our mind, we can go, “Is this true all the time? Does it matter? Why does my breast size matter in this world to my worth?”

It’s a challenging thing because it’s an individual struggle. It’s going to depend on your upbringing and the relationship that you have. If it was just a simple slip of the tongue or social conditioning type of thing that the partner said, you go, “That’s not cool.” If they’re willing to accept that they did something wrong, your journey is going to be different than someone who constantly is shaming their partner in a way, whether they have narcissistic tendencies or whatever it is.

The important thing here is you find a source of validation that shaming is not okay. You start talking about the shame process and things you can do to build up your confidence and self-esteem and make you feel better. Sometimes, unfortunately, it means breaking ties with people who make comments like that. I’ve talked to lots of women who had to cut moms out of their lives or limit the amount of time that they spent with certain people because they wouldn’t accept that it wasn’t okay to talk like that to them. You have to do whatever you need to do to protect yourself.



I have two pieces to add on. By standing up for yourself and having strong boundaries around this negative talk, you become that force of change. Your body and mind feel it. When you say, “This is not okay. My body is my body.” That’s an important part. That sense of empowerment and strength comes from in a very kind and respectful way saying, “This is not okay. This behavior, I don’t know where you got it from but lose it. If you want to be around me, it’s not going to work.”

For your own good and self-growth, it might be something you want to look at. In society, we’ve come a long way. We truly are. We are making strides across all genders, especially with women, in saying what’s appropriate, what’s acceptable, and what’s not, and having nice lines around that. Kudos to the #MeToo Movement because it started shifting things in the direction they needed to go.

The other important piece that you brought up that I loved is if a partner, a mom, a friend, or anyone is saying, “You should look this way or I’d prefer if you looked that way,” have a discussion about it. Say, “Why are you saying this? Where does this come from?” It’s not only do you not get on the defensive and feel badly about yourself, which is often where we go.

We immediately sink into shame, “I’m not good enough.” It’s like, “Let’s get curious and talk about this ideal image of a woman.” You might come to realize that the mom or the partner has something stuck in their mind about when they were sixteen years old, the love of their life or the mom may have been shamed. It’s that image of what a perfect woman or maybe a Playboy model stuck up on the wall poster from childhood. That’s there. Let’s get some other images in there about what a healthy and imperfect woman looks like. We are all imperfect. We just need to get more images out there.

That is the biggest thing of all if we saw more people that looked like regular people out in the world. We see 10,000 ads a day. If we saw more people that looked like normal people, I don’t think we would be facing a lot of these things that we are facing. It would change so much and it’s starting.

Emily, one last piece is it’s important for us to realize that even those models that we call perfect, when trends change, are no longer perfect. They may have this certain physique and standard. I’m sure they’re all lovely, wonderful human beings but perfect is not one thing. Even those models are imperfect.

It’s a moving target so we keep consuming.

We are all imperfect and that is a good thing. We are all quirky. We all look different from each other. We all have unique fingerprints. Let’s celebrate that rather than shaming. If somebody wants to do something, it’s because they want to do it for their physical appearance. They want to buy a lotion or do this or that. Do it for you. Don’t be doing it in the quest to be loved or accepted because if you’re with the right people, they will love, accept, and adore you as you are. They will want you to be healthy, mind you, but someone who truly loves you isn’t going to want you to be bulimic or anorexic.


IAOL 27 | Body Positivity


Being fat can be way healthier than being thin. You can’t measure health by looking at someone.

Emily, thank you so much for your time. I could keep talking to you because you have such wonderful information. I do want to say your book isn’t just pictures. There is a lot of heartfelt discussion in there that is easy to read. It’s not textbook style.

I wanted it so easy to consume that our young girls could go, “I can relate to this. This makes sense.”

I’m not a young girl and I surely relate to it so well done you.

Thank you.

Where can our readers find you, Emily?

You can follow me on Instagram @RealHappyDaughter or @BootStrappedWoman where I talk about ethical marketing.

One more question. Why the happy daughter handle?

Originally, the book, when I first proposed it to the publisher, was called Average Girl, and then we were going to call it Real Happy. I want to create a world full of real happy daughters. That’s where the handle came from. We changed the book name to Body Positive but it had stuck. I felt like it had such a good significance so we kept it as Real Happy Daughter.

I love that explanation. I know I said we’re done but I want to give a nod because we talked about it a bit. Body positivity and body neutrality are two different things. Could you give us a brief definition in your words of both and how they complement each other? They’re not at war with each other. They can complement each other.

Honestly, whatever you want to call it, we’re all fighting for body acceptance. Body positivity is the idea that all bodies are good bodies. They’re worthy of love and respect. All bodies are beautiful. With body neutrality, the only difference is that it’s an in-between place. It’s also the idea that your body doesn’t determine your worth but it takes away the pressure of having to feel that you need to love the way your body looks. They’re very similar. It’s all about body acceptance, whether you’re working towards being okay in your skin or loving your body. Whatever you pick is fine and okay.

All bodies are beautiful and worthy of love and respect. Click To Tweet

That’s a perfect way for us to close. It’s all about body acceptance. Whichever flavor you like, go for it. Thank you so much, Emily. It’s been a joy and such a pleasure.

Thank you for having me.


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About Emily Lauren Dick

IAOL 27 | Body PositivityEmily Lauren Dick, author of Body Positive: A Guide to Loving Your Body, is a writer, speaker, and activist who is passionate about body image, women’s issues, and taming shame. Emily is also a creative marketer who works with women-led businesses. She believes in ethical marketing and wants to empower others to embrace who they truly are. Her writing and expertise have been featured in Glamour, Today’s Parent, and Scary Mommy! You can follow her on social media @bootstrappedwoman and @realhappydaughter.

6 Responses

  1. “Gratitude is the compass that points us towards a fulfilling life, and your posts are the map guiding us on that journey. Thank you for the direction!”

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