In February of this year, The BodCon became the first-ever virtual conference to focus on body confidence and self-acceptance. The BodCon is hosted in partnership with Shine Influencers, the talent management agency co-founded by Jess Hunichen and Emily Ward, and intimates brand, Knix. While the concepts of body neutrality and body positivity are hardly new, the event’s reception further proves that the acceptance of all bodies isn’t a feeling, but a growing movement.
With the realization that a one-day event was just the beginning, Shine Influencers have launched a podcast, fittingly named, The BodPod. Starting April 12th, the weekly podcast will dive deeper into people, brands and topics that are making a difference in the way we see and talk about our bodies. “We decided to launch The BodPod weekly podcast along with The BodCon MOVES and The BodCon TALKS event and panel series to give our community a chance to connect, learn and be heard throughout the entire year,” Ward said.
To celebrate the launch of the podcast and the important conversations it’s bringing to the table, here we spoke with four of The BodCon speakers — Alicia McCarvell, Allison E. Lang, Mina Gerges, and Alex Dacy, about their own experiences with body confidence and self-acceptance. And spoiler alert: you can catch Mina and Alicia on BodPod episodes now.
Alicia McCarvell engages her 1.7 million TikTok followers (and over 273,000 on Instagram), in conversations around body image, worth, and self-love. Her videos often feature her husband and the pair is laugh-out-loud funny (check out this one featuring a rotten slushie drink). Their relationship has been criticized because she is plus size and her husband is not.
Sunday Edit: What are some of the subtle (and not so subtle) ways people express their surprise/disapproval of the fact that you are plus-sized and your husband is not?
Alicia McCarvell: It can be remarks like, “He’s your husband?” or “You must be rich!”
There have been in-person interactions where women hit on my husband while I’m holding his hand. We’ve had women slide into his DMs asking how he could possibly be happy with me or telling him he’d be happier with a thinner woman, or a woman that loves the gym. I’ve learned something about these interactions; everyone is in a different place with their journey of self-worth. I used to devalue myself because of my size, and in the grand scheme of things, that’s the exact same thing as these women in his DMs over-valuing themselves because of their thin size. Our value isn’t attached to how we look, or how society perceives us. Our value is attached to who you are and what you put into this world and I know my worth, and I know that I am irreplaceable to my husband.
SE: Can you talk a little about your ‘Love Me’ journal and how that’s helped you get more confident?
AM: My ‘Love Me’ journal was a notebook I bought at the Dollar store. I challenged myself to write something I loved about myself, every day. It was the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. Some days it took minutes to think of things and other days it took hours, but every day it got easier. I ended up with a journal filled with things about myself that were amazing, things that I had allowed to live in the shadow of my weight for far too long.
This journal taught me two important things.
- Who I am, is not my body. By separating the things I liked about myself from the thing I was having a hard time accepting, I realized that my body was the least interesting thing about me.
- I may not have liked my body but I couldn’t be who I am without it. When I placed value on the things that mattered it taught me to respect my body because, without it, I was nothing.
SE: Can you describe the differences between body positive and body neutral?
AM: I think the biggest confusion around being body positive vs. body neutral is the idea that you can’t be both. Being body positive means that all bodies are beautiful, equal and all deserving. Being body neutral recognizes the idea that you don’t have to love everything about your body, and that your body just is. I think during my self-love journey I have been both, body positive and body neutral.
There are days when I wake up, and I’m the most beautiful woman on the planet and then others where I struggle — and the days I struggle, body neutrality allows me to feel what I’m feeling, still respect my body, and move on.
SE: Why do you think you were able to connect with so many on TikTok?
AM: When my first video went viral, it was just as the pandemic was taking over our lives. People were looking for somewhere to go, to laugh, feel good and I think I became that place for a lot of them. I also believe a lot of people (my generation specifically) are also tired of consuming media and content that makes them feel inadequate. When I chose the direction for my platform, I wanted it to be unedited and authentic for that reason. I like to believe that people are looking for content that makes them feel better about their own lives, content that makes them feel good about who they are, and I hope that I do that for my followers!
SE: Why was it important to you to be a part of The BodCon?
AM: It aligns so well with who I am, what I want to put into the world and it was the first of its kind. Self-love and body confidence is something every human being on this planet struggles with. To have a conference focused on bringing all different bodies together to emphasize their worth is something I knew I wanted to be a part of. It’s the beginning of something big.
SE: What would you say to someone who is having trouble feeling comfortable in their body? Any tangible practices or tips?
AM: Absolutely, I have five that are important to me:
Start a ‘Love me’ journal. Start separating who you are from your body. When you’re having trouble loving/liking your body, it’s easy to forget about everything else that is amazing about who you are. By writing down the things that you are proud of you can shift your focus from your body to yourself as a whole. It becomes a lot easier to respect your body when you realize you couldn’t be who you are without it.
Change your inner dialogue. Talk to yourself like you’re your best friend. We give such good advice to others, yet we bring ourselves down. It’s so important that you don’t accept anything for yourself that you wouldn’t accept for the most important person in your life.
Separate exercise from weight loss. Moving my body in ways that I love and that make me feel good has given me so much confidence in my body. When I learned that there are other reasons to move than to lose weight, I realized how resilient my body was, and how strong it could be.
Define your relationship with clothing. Clothes are meant to fit your body, not the other way around. Clothes are meant to emphasize who you are and they are meant to make you feel good – if they don’t, you need new clothes.
Detox your social media! Get rid of anyone who you follow that makes you feel inadequate. You’re in control of your online world, and who you follow plays a HUGE part in how you feel about yourself.