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All through her preschool years, Jessica Sanders has memories of herself being a playful and energetic kid. She spent a vast majority of her time, building forts, climbing trees, and indulging in other outdoor activities. When she got to elementary school, however, she began to feel extremely insecure about her body, believing she did not look good enough, so she struggled to fit in.
The 25-year-old author from Melbourne, Australia, said “I quickly learned that I took up too much space for a girl, I was bigger and taller than all the other children (boys included). By the time I entered high school, I was experimenting with dieting and restriction, and for the entirety of my teenage years I truly believed that when I finally looked like the slender girls in the beauty magazines, that’s when my life would actually begin.”
This and numerous other experiences were the motivation behind Sanders’ book, ‘Learning to love your body, a guide for girls about body positivity.’ The book centers on creating the awareness of self-love, teaching young girls to be comfortable in their own skin, regardless of shape, color or form.
An excerpt from the book reads, “Bodies come in all different forms and abilities. All these bodies are different and all these bodies are good bodies.” Sanders wrote this book in collaboration with designer, Steph Spartels, and illustrator, Carol Rossetti. It highlights pictures of all sorts of women, including women of various races, a woman with armpit hair, and another with an appendage difference. Sanders is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to cover production costs.
Sanders, who has experience in gender studies and is currently seeking a master’s degree in social work, said she got the idea for the book from a conversation she had with a friend in September 2017, about the growing trend of women undergoing labiaplasty procedures for cosmetic purposes. “The feelings of frustration, anger, and sadness felt consuming for me at that moment.” She said. “I had to do something! I was so tired of hearing this same story of women modifying their bodies, restricting themselves, in order to fulfill an unattainable beauty standard.”
Sanders realized that in spite of the fact that a report from Common Sense Media discovered that a greater majority of girls between 6 and 8 “indicate their ideal body weight is thinner than their current weight” (33% of boys in a similar age bracket indicated the same), the ongoing body-positive movement offers a lot of resources for older women, yet not nearly enough for young girls. She went on to say “This statistic illustrates the importance of providing young girls with these valuable lessons of self-love and self-care at a young age and before they are active on social media.”
A year ago, Sanders established ‘Re-Shape Social Enterprises’ as a vessel for her female empowerment endeavors. She believes her book about body positivity is just the beginning. “Learning to Love your body is my first project, but it definitely won’t be my last.” Sanders said.