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Building better body image is a “social justice issue” at Grand Rapids conference

picture of Connie Flachs
People Picture Company
Courtesy of Connie Flachs
"For women, we tend to focus on how to change our own bodies, and that stops us from changing the world," said Flachs.

Body image is something that people can wrestle with their entire lives. Being hypercritical of what you see in the mirror often starts when you’re young, and carries on throughout the rest of your life.

picture of Cassaundra Wolf
Credit Courtesy of Cassaundra Wolf
“It has only been in the last 6 or 7 years that I’ve really discovered what it means to accept all parts of my body, good and bad," said Wolf.

The Better Body Image Conference, taking place Saturday, March 2nd in Grand Rapids, aims to interrupt that self-critical voice about our bodies. 

Conference co-founder  Connie Flachs and conference panelist Cassaundra Wolf joined Stateside to talk about the mission to create cultural and social change, and their own personal experiences with body image. 

Wolf will be speaking on a panel about the intersection of body image and disability, a topic that hits very close to home for her.  

“Growing up as a young woman who has a visual impairment, who has cerebral palsy, I remember often feeling different that my peers," recalled Wolf. 

Wolf says it's only been in the last several years that she's been able to move toward accepting "all parts of my body, both good and bad." 

While body image is an intensely personal issue, Flachs says many of the negative messages we internalize about our body come from media and advertisements. Those messages are often selling a product or service to "fix" something about your body. 

“For me it’s really a social justice issue to people relate to their bodies in a better way, so that they can stop fighting for themselves, and get out there and fight with the things that really need to be battled,” said Flachs. 

The conference aims to offer a communal space to anyone struggling with their body image, and to let them know thay their support and resources available for them. The day will include panel discussions, a group yoga session, and live music. 

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Katie Raymond.
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