Body positive coloring book uses art to challenge weight-based stigma

Image: Brittnay Herbert/Mashable

Ashleigh Shackelford stands with unapologetic confidence, holding up a sign declaring, “Your body is not wrong. Society is.” Her image is solely outlined by thick black lines on white paper. Her fierce stare dares you to pick up a pencil and begin to color her in.

But coloring the image of the body positive activist means confronting the roundness of her face and the curves of her frame. It means getting comfortable with her body a body society will incessantly label as less-than.

As your pink pencil gently traces the curves of her skirt, you realize her body is anything but wrong. And that revelation is exactly the point.

To honor current fat activism trailblazers like Shackelford, artist Allison Tunis created Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book. The book, published in late July, is what Tunis calls an “educational coloring book” that’s part fat activism, part art therapy.

It features the black and white images of 23 activists who Tunis calls current “superstars” of the body positive movement and they are all individuals who influenced Tunis on her own journey to self-love.

Image: Brittany HErbert/Mashable

Tunis was inspired to create the book in December 2015 after feeling compelled to give back to the movement that helped her love her body. She had been working on her own body positive journey for about a year prior, discovering activists who had an indelible impact on her life.

“I started thinking about what I could do to contribute to that movement, because it had made such a difference in my life,” she tells Mashable.

“It’s not only a soothing and relaxing meditation through the act of coloring, but also a meditation on self.”

Tunis, who has degrees in fine art and art therapy, says landing on the idea of a coloring book simply made sense, given her background. And combating the fat-based hate in society with the healing qualities of art is something Tunis knew she could help facilitate for the community.

“The fat activism and body positivity movements are so welcoming and so inclusive that I knew if I did this project, I’d have a ready-made audience,” she says.

Though Tunis says the act of coloring in itself is meditative and relaxing, the type of therapy encouraged by Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book runs deeper.

“It forces you to think about the different bodies and what your relationship is with them,” she says. “It forces you to work out your own issues with bodies. It’s not only a soothing and relaxing meditation through the act of coloring, but also a meditation on self.”

But that’s not only true for people who purchase the coloring book and begin to put crayon to paper. It was also true for Tunis as the illustrator of the book. The process made her confront some of the internalized weight-based hate she had toward her own body.

“As I was drawing these pictures, I realized I was able to see all of the beauty in these people so why wasn’t I able to see it in myself?” she says.

To create the book, Tunis worked closely with the activists featured, keeping them updated on the progress and getting their input on their depictions. She also offered them 25 percent of the profits.

“I’m using their names and their images and their reputations to sell this book,” she says. “They deserve acknowledgment and that means monetary recognition.”

But Tunis gave the activists a choice. They could either take the earned 25 percent to support their own livelihoods and work, or donate it to the Canadian Mental Health Association an organization Tunis chose because of the mental health impacts of dealing with fat hatred and weight-based stigma. She says about half of those featured chose to donate their cut of the profits.

Kelvin Davis, model and men’s fashion blogger, featured in “Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book.”


Over the past month since the book’s release, Tunis says the ready-made audience she anticipated has pulled through, making the self-published book a financial success. Some activists, like burlesque performer Noella DeVille and activist and author Virgie Tovar, are even buying the books in bulk to sell at their own events, bringing the work to a larger audience.

But the release also pulled in another unexpected audience: children. Tunis says she’s received several notes from parents saying they are grateful to have an alternative option to the tiny waists and unrealistic proportions that coat the pages of other coloring books.

“People have been saying that they are buying this coloring book not only for themselves, but to color in with their daughters and children,” she says. “I really think it helps spread a positive notion. You are spreading awareness that all bodies are good bodies to your children.”

“Taking the time to lovingly color images of people who look like me is so healing…”

Substantia Jones, a fat positive photographer featured in the book, uses her own art to deconstruct how fat bodies are perceived in society, calling her work “part fat, part feminism, part ‘fuck you.'” She describes Tunis’ coloring book as following a similar mantra, challenging the belief of which bodies deserve to be celebrated.

“Utilizing alternative forms of media to bring the message of body love and fat acceptance to people particularly young people is nothing short of brilliant,” Jones tells Mashable. “Wallpapering the planet with positive depictions of fat folks is proving effective, and I’m glad to be aboard Allison Tunis’ project.”

Cynthia Ramsay Noel (left), founder of “Flight of the Fat Girl,” and Ashleigh Shackelford, body positive activist and writer.

Image: Brittany Herbert/Mashable

When speaking to Mashable about the impact of the book, Tovar describes the effort as “super radical.” She says even the simple act of coloring can help to normalize a range of bodies, which was part of Tunis’ main goal.

“This coloring book is a big deal because historically there has been almost no positive, self-directed representations of fat people in any publication,” Tovar says. “Coloring is a therapeutic activity that requires time and commitment. Taking the time to lovingly color images of people who look like me is so healing because often we are taught to shy away from looking at our own fat bodies.”

“To every person who has ever looked in the mirror and hated what they saw. You do not have to feel like this.”

Case studies conducted over the past several years found that art therapy supports emotional well-being and decreases stress in both children and adults. Those who use art therapeutically have been found to make fewer phone calls to mental health providers and use fewer medical and mental health services.

But, even with art’s healing qualities on your side, things sometimes get tough and Tunis knows that first-hand. Even after finding body positivity, she says she still has bad days with her body image. But, she adds, the activists featured in the coloring book help her along the way.

“There’s this whole community of amazing people who do amazing things and their bodies are a part of that,” Tunis says. “It’s not that they are amazing in spite of their bodies. They are amazing because they are embracing their bodies. I remember there are people who love them and find them attractive. I don’t have to feel this way.”

And she echoes that belief for anyone who picks up the book through a powerful dedication that prefaces the book: “To every person who has ever looked in the mirror and hated what they saw. You do not have to feel like this.”

Read more:

David Hernandez

Fat Is Just An Adjective, Not An Insult

Fat has become the F word. Fat has become an insult to mean the opposite of attractive; the opposite of pretty. Fat has become a synonym to ugly, or a term used to demean others. Fat has evolved into a word which implies inferiority and lack of control. It’s a word that the media tells us we should never be. It’s a word that we tell our selves we should never be.

But all of these messages? All of these negative associations?

These are all lies.

Because here’s the thing: fat is not a bad word. Let me say that again. Actually, better yet, let me shout it: FAT IS NOT A BAD WORD. Fat is by no means the F word. Fat is not a word to be afraid of. Its not a word we need to avoid. Fat is not an insult, and fat does not imply inferiority. Fat is not mean. Fat is not scary. Fat is not ugly. Fat is simply a word, with no inherent goodness or badness. Fat is a characteristic; an adjective. Its nothing more.

Some of us are tall, some of us are short. Some of us are skinny, some of us are fat. The amount of fat we have on our bodies is just another characteristic of our appearance. Its no different than our hair color or our height. Its simply a part of how we look.

We dont shame people for their height or eye color. So why do we shame people for their bodies?

Society has done a great disservice to all of us all by teaching us that fatness implies inferiority. By turning the word fat from a neutral adjective into a shameful insult, millions of beautiful people battle with unnecessary low self-esteem and low self-confidence. Society has infiltrated our minds with the belief that thin people are more beautiful, and that thin people have more of a right to feel pretty.

It has led us to believe that we can only feel confident if we are a certain size or a certain weight. Society has taught young children that the worst thing they can be is fat. This is not only embarrassing, this is also heartbreaking.It leaves children to think that their bodies are a problem, or tricks them into thinking that they are not worthy of feeling loved or feeling confident.

We constantly compare ourselves to the thin ideal that popular culture throws in our faces. We believe that if we are different from this idealized image of beauty, we are not good enough. Everywhere we see and hear the same message- the message that thin is pretty, and that fat is not. But this very obviously is not true. This is clearly discriminatory.

You see, some of us are born fat. Some of us are born heavier, or have more curves. And this is where society keeps messing up. Society deems fat people as lazy, or as having no self-control around food. Society sees fatness as a flaw that is avoidable. This is an ignorant and uneducated view, because it neglects to realize that our bodies are intelligent, and that we all have weight set points, or weights in which our bodies are the healthiest.

Those of us who have larger bodies are born into these bodies for a reason. Our bodies are built this way because this is how they should be this is how our genetics and our environments have shaped us. Our bodies and minds function optimally at a heavier weight. Our body systems and our metabolism function ideally when we are at this weight. In other words, this is our natural set point. This is the weight in which we are the healthiest and the happiest.

While some of us are naturally fat, others of us are naturally thin. For those of us who have thinner bodies, we too have healthy weight set points. We reach our best psychological and physiological wellbeing at a lower weight. This is where our bodies work more fluidly – this is where we are supposed to be. This is where we function optimally.

In other words,weight is rarely an indication of health.

When you think about it, why would we have a weight in which our body functions at equilibrium if it didn’t serve a purpose? If we were all supposed to be thin, we would be thin. But we are supposed to be all different weights. And when we try to diet when we are already at our own healthy weight, our bodies protest. They fight back. They do this for a purpose. The binge urges that spike when we diet? The mood swings? The cravings? These are all emergency alerts telling us that we aren’t satisfied; that something is wrong. These occur because we are depleting ourselves of what we fundamentally need.

You see, our bodies are smarter than we think.Just as we would not try to squeeze our feet into shoes that are four sizes too small, we shouldn’t try to decrease the size of our bodies to reach unrealistic weigh expectations. We all have a set point – and whether we are heavy or light, we are the healthiest when we relax and let ourselves be at this set point.

Fat is just a characteristic. Fat is an adjective. Fat is a description. Fat is beautiful. Fat is healthy. Fat is fat. We don’t need to change our weights. What do we need to do? We need to open our eyes to beauty and health at every size. We need to rebel against society’s lies by accepting our own bodies and the bodies of others. Our bodies do not need to change. Society needs to change.

Fat is a description. Fat is an adjective. Fat is a physical characteristic.

Fat is not the F word.

Read more:

David Hernandez

Mom Bravely Reveals The Truth Behind Her 90-Pound Weight Loss

When it comes to losing weight, everyone’s journey is a little bit different.

Some people try to lose baby weight, while others try to work off weight that they have had for years.

Some lose the weight that they want by starting yoga or a certain sport others even find success by walking to Walmart every day!

Though every body transformation is different, one thing is for sure the process is not as simple as the before-and-after photos make them seem!

There is plenty of hard work, emotion, uncertainty, and at times, a bit of excess skin at the end.

This is what Rachel Graham hoped to show when she created her Instagram account chronicling her awesome body transformation.

Being both inspiring and emotional, her photos explain how tough the process can be, though it is definitely rewarding at the end.

She even posted an extremely body-positive photo of her belly post-weight loss and it is definitely not the “after” photo you are used to seeing!

Check below to learn more about her amazing journey and to read her inspiring words.

[H/T: Cosmopolitan]

Nova ScotianRachel Graham started her inspiring Instagram accountlosinggravityin 2015.

Since then, she has shown her thousands of followers what a realistic, relatable weight loss journey looks like!

After having two children, she began her fitness journey and has been documenting the process online.

And so far her “Work. Dedication. [and] Commitment,” have paid off. She’s lost a total of 90 lbs.!

But what’s even more inspiring than her weight loss is the open and honest point of view that she has on the process.

Along with showcasing her body transformation, she also aimed to keep it real with her followers and show them the strength, struggle, and emotion that goes along with losing weight.

She also condemned finding any “quick fixes” that would make her thin and instead advocated for realistic lifestyle changes and seating habits.

Her two sons also played a role in the process. “Never underestimate the full body workout of pushing a stroller on a rocky surface,” she explained in apost.

But the most honest and inspiring part of her journey so far has been a revealing post about her excess skin after the weight was gone.

While we are constantly exposed to before-and-after photos, we rarely see any of the difficult points in between the two bodies.

ButGraham’s post shows off all of her excess skin on her stomach along with a very inspiring message:

“The anxiety posting this is REAL.Taken a few minutes apart, flexing in the first.”

“How did you avoid loose skin and stretch marks?”Heyyyyy, I didn’t! Its all there. High waisted bottoms have become my bff.

Do I regret losing weight? Hellllll noooooo. NEVER. Not even a slightest thought. I am more FIT than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

Happier. HEALTHIER. I’d be lying if I said my loose skin wasn’t an insecurity of mine. But I refuse to let it consume me. It doesn’t hold me back like the weight used to.”

“This stomach has grown two beautiful boys.. Has been through a [90-pound+] gain and loss ([100-pound+] lost from my highest weight while pregnant!)”

“Will you have loose skin after losing weight? I can’t answer that for you, everyBODY is different.

“Will it be worth it, regardless? YES. Also for those who have asked… I do plan to have surgery some day, but in the meantime, I’m just working on self loooovvveeee…”

Since posting, her open and honest photo has gotten plenty of praise for showing off a realistic weight loss process, while urging everyone to love their bodies regardless of what they look like.

Though healthy weight loss is inspiring in the first place, Graham’s honest journey is truly amazing because it is coming from her heart.

If you can’t get enough of inspiring weight loss stories, make sure to SHARE with friends and family on Facebook.

Read more:

David Hernandez

Mediterranean diet better than statins for tackling heart disease study

Study finds people already suffering from heart problems are 37% less likely to die early if they eat a diet rich in vegetables, nuts and fish

Heart disease is better treated with a Mediterranean-style diet than cholesterol-lowering drugs, it has been claimed.

A study found those who had a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, fish and oils were a third less likely to die early, compared with those who ate larger quantities of red meat, such as beef, and butter.

Speaking at a global conference on heart disease in Rome, leading heart disease expert Prof Giovanni de Gaetano said: So far research has focused on the general population, which is mainly composed of healthy people.

What happens to people who have already suffered from cardiovascular disease? Is the Mediterranean diet optimal for them too?

The study followed 1,200 people with a history of heart attacks, strokes and blocked arteries over seven years. During that time, 208 patients died but the closer people were to an ideal Mediterranean diet the less likely they were to be among the fatalities.

The conference was told those who ate mainly along Mediterranean lines were 37% less likely to die during the study than those who were furthest from this dietary pattern, after adjusting for age, sex, class, exercise and other habits.

Previously, cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins were believed to be the most effective method of combating heart disease, the leading cause of death in the UK.

Statins, which are among the worlds besselling prescription drugs, are said to help reduce major heart problems by around 24%. They are the most widely prescribed drugs in the UK, with at least 7 million users costing the NHS 285m a year.

According to the latest figures from the British Heart Foundation, cardiovascular disease causes more than a quarter (27%) of all deaths in the UK around 155,000 deaths each year an average of 425 people each day or one death every three minutes.

Sir David Nicholson, former chief executive of the NHS, entered the debate over statins in July when he said he had stopped taking them as part of his medication for diabetes. If a lifestyle change works then why would you take the statin? The trouble is that they give you a statin straightaway, so you dont know what is working, he said.

Read more:

David Hernandez

Mediterranean diet may be more helpful than statins

(CNN)The Mediterranean diet has been credited with doing everything from helping you lose weight to living longer to improving the health of your brain. A new study, looking at its effect on people with poor heart health, shows that the diet may be a huge help for that, too.

A lot of doctors like the diet because there are a lot of menu options with it. It even allows for a glass of wine or beer a day, allowing people to stick with it a lot easier than other diets. The new US Dietary Guidelines included the Mediterranean diet as one option Americans could use to stay healthy.
Earlier studies showed that people eating the Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. It may lower your risk of cancer, improve your bone health and help you live longer generally.

See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

Because the new study is only observational, meaning the subjects acted independently, more research will be needed. But if you have a history of heart problems or your family has had heart issues, you may want to make a switch to this diet.

Read more:

David Hernandez

5 animal fat bank note: British vegetarians being ‘stupid’ says inventor

Professor David Solomon says polymer notes contain trivial amounts of tallow which is also found in candles and soap

The Australian pioneer of the polymer bank note says its stupid that vegetarian and vegans are protesting in the UK about the five pound polymer note containing animal fat.

Professor David Solomon says the polymer notes contain trivial amounts of tallow, an animal fat found in candles and soap, yet pressure is being placed on the Bank of England to find an alternative.

Its stupid. Its absolutely stupid, Solomon told the Australian radio station 2GB. Theres trivial amounts of it in there.

More than 120,000 people have supported an online petition urging the Bank of England to cease using animal fat in the production of five pound notes the first polymer notes in circulation in the UK.

The new STG5 notes contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK, the petition states.

We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use.

Solomon said polymer notes were extremely hard to forge and had a lot more benefits for the consumer than previous paper notes.

It picks up less drugs than paper notes and you dont chop down trees, he said. Its more hygenic than a paper note by a long way.

The $10 note was the first polymer bank note in circulation in Australia in 1988.

The note was developed by the countrys research and development body, CSIRO, led by a team under Solomon.

Read more:

David Hernandez