When I was a little girl, before the technological advancements of digital music files, my mother had a CD, which if I remember correctly, was tie-dye colored and was entitled the Power Of Love. I can tell you it was always on deck to be played, was nearly scratched to death and I only remember one song from it! One song that has stuck with me to this day.
“I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way....” being a child in Israel before the internet I had no access or connection to pop culture and with the CD being a curated mix I had no idea it was the great Whitney Huston I was connecting with. All I knew was she was speaking directly to me. I was the future and one day I would be expected to lead the way. She wanted me to learn self-pride and see “the beauty I possessed inside”.
So that’s where my beauty was I thought. Since it was obviously not on the outside.
Just as kids today barely know what cds are, I am hopeful that the landscape surrounding body acceptance changes enough for them to not know the pain so many of us endured growing up chubby or beyond.
For many years it was drilled into me that my weight was not beautiful. That I would not find love. That I would struggle to maintain relationships. That I would struggle finding a good job.
That I was unacceptable.
Whitney’s words to me were a battle cry.
“I decided long ago , never to walk in anyone’s shadows. If I fail, if I succeed at least I live as I believe. No matter what they take from me they can’t take away my dignity.
Because the greatest love of all is happening to me. Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”
I was going to prove everyone wrong and be beautiful, find love, have lots of friends, build a huge career despite being fat! I would carve a place for myself and become acceptable. My defiance turned into determination. Which turned into gumption which landed somewhere in confidence.
Learning to love myself has been a long and bumpy road.
Today someone wrote me a message on the @gitaomriofficial Instagram accusing me of cultural appropriation.
In the bio part of the account I wrote “if you don’t feel body positive 100% of the time, don’t worry no one does.”
My intention with this message was to encourage women to take courage in the fact that we are all flawed and searching for that self love. Her complaint to me was that I was misusing the term “body positivity.”
“I believe it’s a little misleading as body positivity is a political movement and not a feeling/emotion one can have toward their body. I believe what you meant to say is that no one has to feel body love or acceptance 100% of the time. You may want to update your marketing to better keep the meaning of body positivity true to the political movement.”
Although I disagree, I understand that everyone has their own points of view and experiences. I thanked her for hers.
“It's not really a point of view; body positivity was born from fat positivity and fat acceptance founded by fat black women. It’s been stolen by mainstream models to make them trendy. Obviously your brand isn’t concerned with body positivity and only about using it as a marketing tool to cash in on the mainstream ideals. Good luck with that.”
My reason for sharing her messages is not to call her out or ridicule her view on the subject. In fact I respect her strength and conviction, but I feel the subject is much more nuanced .
As a plus size white model herself, it saddens me that her one take away from my work and the hard work we have been doing building Gita Omri is that it is all a marketing scheme.
First, Gita Omri is a brand, an inclusively sized brand dedicated to authentic body positivity. Gita Omri is also a person. A person who has struggled with her weight her whole life. Who thought she had reached the point of no return once her weight started with a 3. A person who battled self-loathing, self-harm, loneliness, eating disorder, two miscarriages and crippling shame. Gita Omri is also a person who has always gotten back up. Faked it til she made it. Asked for help. Found love and inner peace. My personal battle with maintaining body positivity and self acceptance is unique and personal to me, my desire and demand to be accepted by the world and in this case specifically the fashion industry is not a marketing scheme. Gita Omri was created to let women of all shapes, sizes and colors know they are not alone. That we do deserve beautiful well made clothing. That we do deserve to be featured in ads and magazines.
I think it’s interesting that she called out models for making the movement trendy and mainstream. Isn’t that the point of a movement? Having it become accepted so that it becomes part of the norm? Doesn’t that mean it is working?
What are your thoughts on the subject? Leave your comments below!
(Please keep it respectful)