TEDx Talks are almost always as uplifting as they are informative. Through them, we learn not just about the issues people face, but we meet the people who have faced and overcome them. Michelle Wallen's TEDx Talk about body image for TEDx ChemungRiver is no different. The speech tracks through Wallen's body image issues and her history getting through them in a pretty unique way. One we could perhaps learn a lot from, even if we're not up to going the whole hog on it.
Michelle Wallen's revolution in body positivity came from becoming a nudist. And not just a nudist in the privacy of her "own home in the country with 10 acres with no close neighbors," but publicly taking part in and being photographed for New York's annual Body Painting Day, an event run by Andy Golub and Young Naturists America.
As a plus size woman, this kind of confidence for one's body feels revolutionary to me, especially when it's taken from the comfort of one's own home and placed in the public in such a (literally) revealing way. And especially coming from a woman who's experienced the worst effects that body shaming can have on a person. As she puts it in her video, "I’ve walked my path dealing with social anxiety, depression, abuse, and bullying. The fear of being judged as 'not enough' — good enough, pretty enough, strong enough, skinny enough." Wallen's TEDx talk is a revelation, not just for inspiring others but because of the pride she deserves to feel for herself.
When writing for the Young Naturists America blog, Wallen expands on just how taking part in this NYC based event benefited her body positivity and self image.
"I simply can’t say enough good things about the experience! Everyone there was so amazingly warm, supportive, and loving. Everyone was there for each other and for a common end goal. Being painted in public was exhilarating and unnerving at the same time. One of my personal highlights was when we were leaving the park, walking down the sidewalk with people flanking both sides of us, cameras flashing. I tell you, it was my 'red carpet moment' and it was such an amazing feeling! Like those people were there just to see ME. I was a star! I walked a little taller and felt like I could take on the world!"
The bravery it must take to put your naked body in the public eye like that is incredible. Honesty about how your body looks as well as totally owning how it looks both take a lot of confidence and self love. So to enjoy the experience only proves that our fears regarding revealing and loving our bodies are pretty unfounded.
Although I'm not ready to run out and start walking the streets naked with a garden scene painted on my breasts, I still think there's a great message to take away from this.
The more time we spend with our bodies and seeing ourselves naked, the more comfortable and happy we can hopefully become with our state of being. The more we can not only accept our bodies, but the more we can love our bodies just the way they are.