interview: lexie, ‘attention: people with body parts’
Do you ever worry about how your body and/or body parts are perceived by society? Attention: People With Body Parts is a new international project that aims to address the issues of body image – to encourage us to celebrate our body parts and their connections to ourselves and to others.
‘Our bodies are filled with histories and identities, which overflow into the spaces between us. Histories and identities that change the way we look at each other and the way we look into the mirror. Together, we self-construct and self-destruct our bodies,’ writes Lexie Bean, creator of the project.
This week I interviewed Lexie about the project, body image and what she wants from us Lipsters.
This project sounds fantastic, Lexie! What led you to the idea of Attention: People With Body Parts?
Attention: People With Body Parts, simply put, derived from my experiences in this body. I witnessed both ends of the spectrum: I have recognised my privilege as a white American. I have been lifted, tangled, and caught into other bodies in contact improv (if you haven’t heard of this dance form, google away!). Meanwhile, I have dealt with an eating disorder since elementary school. I have had water bottles thrown at me for associating with queer people and bodies in high school.
From a young age, writing became a way to more easily digest these experiences. When playing with words and searching for forms, I created a space to communicate with pieces of myself. Some days I did not feel ready to write, especially at first. I knew that writing would push me deeper into myself and sometimes nothing else seems scarier. Nonetheless, I always knew that there was still time to write as long as I was in my body.
Writing to myself has established a framework for speaking beyond pages. I started to question who exactly is allowed to speak? Who has bodies labelled with words outside of their control? Where do safe spaces begin? How can I write to my body parts when so many parts and pieces of other people have been compared to, grown next to, or changed because of mine? So. Here we are – making the body movement move up from the grassroots.
What do you want from us Lipsters? How can we help with the project?
1. Consider how your body moves with other people. Whether it is checking yourself before expressing disappointment about your weight in front of your daughter, or questioning who your reproductive organs allow you to love, we all have these pieces that give us power or maybe even make us feel [fill in the blank].
2. Write a letter to a body part! Yeah! For more details, visit the submissions page. I am always available to talk with individuals who have the courage to partake in the project, even if he/she/they do not want to use a letter as a submission.
3. I am seeking out a variety of transition homes and shelters, activist circles, book/zine stores, clinics, empowerment/support groups, and other groups that support safe spaces and portable safe spaces. Please shoot me a message if you have an organisation in mind for future collaboration!
4. Email me for more info.
Where can we read the other letters?
The book is due to be published by the end of October! It holds letters from individuals within my personal web, ranging from those who raised me and those who I had class with that one time in freshman year. To stay updated on where the book will be available for purchase, follow the Attention: People With Body Parts Facebook page.
As I collect more submissions, I will begin to anonymously post them every Friday on the official website.
Why do you think positive body image is important? What do you hope to happen in the future?
Positive body image is essential because it has become so heavily linked with identities and histories. What is perceived and made “positive” and fully “body” has defined structures that make individuals believe that their bodies are less than whole. I did not start this project to tell folks what they should love about themselves, what is positive, or that he or she or they probably dislike(s) wrinkled skin. Doing so would isolate what is “positive” and our experiences into what is assumed. This does not seem any different than continuing the cycle of separating the positive parts and people from the negative.
I believe in layers. True positivity comes from accepting every body as a whole, filled to the brim with stories that break bones and puts fire in our bellies. This wholeness is made up of body parts that have made contact with each other and with other people. I hope for safe spaces in which contact is no longer a taboo, but as a way to give everyone the chance to move and speak.
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