Jade & Deanna
Kyira: “What made the two of you decide to be a part of this project?"
Deanna: “For me I think, I actually have some trepidation about the idea of it being around beauty. I get the concept of what you are trying to do - empowering women to feel good about themselves and good about their bodies - but I mean, I don’t strive to be beautiful. I strive to be strong. I strive to be capable. I strive to be functional - all of these other things - and I don’t really worry so much about being beautiful anymore because one of the things I have learned over the years is that it doesn’t really matter. I have been 40 lbs less than this, I have been this, I have been everywhere in between, and wherever you are on the spectrum, somebody is going to look at you and tell you that your body is wrong."
Kyira: “Mm Hmm."
Deanna: “You know and so it’s like, for me, I want people to just embrace and enjoy what their body can do and we do really really cool stuff with our bodies and I want people to see that you can just be in your body and enjoy what it is capable of doing without having to meet some sort of standard of beauty."
Kyira: “Yeah and I think the sort of counter that I get in that is that even as you are talking I am thinking that they way that beauty has been defined for you, it sounds like, is around the cultural standards of what beauty is instead off, sort of, the idea of reclaiming it and saying, ‘To me, beauty is strength’. You know? Or to enjoy the beauty in the movement of our bodies. And why does beauty have to mean anything more than that? And so I think you pointing that out is really important because people might not relate to the word beauty but if they relate to words like strong or functional then they might see a shift in how they do look at the notion of beauty and say, ‘I am beautiful because I am strong’ or whatever it might be for them."
Deanna: “Right and that’s why I wanted to do it because I felt like I can represent somebody who is doing really kick ass stuff with my body and sure, if someone wants to put the label beautiful on it, go for it. I mean it doesn’t bother me if they do but…"
Kyira: “But, you don’t have to."
Deanna: “Right, I don’t have to and its not the word that I care about. But I also don’t feel any shame about what my body looks like by not using words like that I am just so excited about what my body can do rather than looks like."
Kyira: “Yeah absolutely. Which is amazing! Jade, what about for you?"
Jade: “I also get the concept of the project and totally support it - it’s really great. And I mean, I am all about inspiring people and sharing inspiration and a lot of what Deanna said relates to what I think about the project overall. I mean I went on the Facebook page and scrolled through the pictures and like, they are all amazing. It is so amazing that these people are willing to get up and do that andwe do so much physical stuff that when Deanna asked me to do this with her I just loved the idea of showing what we do because to me, it is all about movement, any movement - I don’t care what it is, just the idea of moving. A lot of times people don’t think about it like that, you know? Bodies are meant to move and people lose sight of that. We have all of these societal standards around beauty but we also have these standards of what people are supposed to do, especially what women are supposed to do and where the boundaries are in those spaces and that’s why I love the idea of putting like our acro pictures out there. I mean if we just inspire one person to do get up and do something different, even just one day, then that is enough for me."
Deanna: “Yeah and one of the things we were talking about beforehand when we were talking about the questions is that when I think about when I find other people beautiful, it is never someone who is just sitting still doing nothing, its people interacting with the world around them - it’s in them doing things, the look that they have towards each other, it’s the laugh, you know? It’s all of these things that are action things. It’s how you are in the world not just this shell of you."
Kyira: “Absolutely. And as you were talking to about this notion of moving and thinking when you said about what your body can do, I am curious in tying it in with the next question about how culture has influenced your perception for beauty. I was even thinking after you talked about boundaries, we put limits on what people can do based on their size so even if we can inspire people to move beyond that, what might it look like, you know? One of the other woman I interviewed was talking about this notion of what makes her as a 5’11” size 14 ballerina any less capable or qualified than a 5’11" size 4 ballerina."
Kyira: “So it’s like, why did I get I get put into this box where I should be doing ‘X’ and not ‘Y’? And its more about pushing back and saying you don’t have to be in a category but it’s more about breaking past that and thinking about what makes you feel good."
Jade: “And even just like, we call Deanna 'Lady Base’…well because she is the base and she is a lady…" (laughter) "…and in acro that is a term that we use and that totally fits in here because not a lot of woman do what she does. Not a lot of woman base so for her to be strong enough to do this, it’s awesome. You know I have seen her base giant dudes (gestures) and I mean, I am smaller than her, but not everyone she bases is so yeah, it really is about strength and power and being able to break out of the box and do what it is that you want to do."
Deanna: “Yeah absolutely. And one of the things that I really strive to do in acro is make it accessible to everybody. And we will frequently have people walk up to us - we do it every Saturday at the Farmer’s Market - and say ‘Wow, that is so amazing, I wish I could do that’ and I will say ‘Come play with us! I will fly you.” And I have had lots of people who are bigger people who are just like ‘Oh no, I don’t think you should, I am too heavy’ and I say ‘You’re not - I can do it and you can do it too and let’s do it together.’ And I mean I have flown 250 lb men before and this past weekend I flew three women at one time which was 350 lbs probably and I just want to make everyone feel like we can do this and we can make it happen together."
Kyira: “That is so awesome and such an inspirational belief system, the notion of doing it almost as a community banded together. What would you say - because both of you really sound like you are in a place where you do feel good about yourself and you focus on nurturing your bodies and celebrate your bodies - what was the hardest part for you in getting to this point?"
Jade: (chuckles) “It has definitely been a journey…” (laughter) "…I mean I guess, long story short, I went through an eating disorder when I was younger and I was just thinking about it because like, every day is different. I mean sure today is great, I am feeling great, you know and we can have this conversation. And it’s not like I would say anything different on a different day but every day I wake up and look in the mirror and it is a struggle. Every time I am getting dressed, it is a struggle. Other people can tell me that I am beautiful but that doesn’t matter. What matters is what my mind says to me and I have come really far on the whole body dysmorphia thing but I am pretty sure what I see is still not what other people see, you know? And that just is what it is and I am sure a lot of that is based on the society we grew up in but its just, every day is a struggle."
Deanna: “And I would say I absolutely believe everything I just said to you but I know when I see the pictures I will look at my chubby tummy and the fat underneath my arms and all of those things and I will be just as critical as other women or people in general might be…(pause)...but I think the difference is that I won’t let it stop me."
Kyira: “Which is huge."
Deanna: “Yeah, which is huge because that is just my body and my body is doing amazing things and I can hate it but it doesn’t get me anywhere. So, I know I will be critical and those thoughts will run through my head and then I will tell my head to shut the fuck up and…” (laughter) "…and I will go on with my day. Because it’s like I know that that is not going to get me anywhere."
Jade: “Yeah and I am totally seconding what she said - it’s the decision to not let it stop you. I mean I am not not going to leave the house and I am not not going to let you guys post whatever pictures you take and that is something that I have had to work hard on. I hate pictures of myself, absolutely hate them. Almost every picture ever taken of me, I have hated. But at some point it was like, okay but them am I just never going to put myself out there on social media and stuff? Am I just never going to be a part of that? And so I just made the decision like ‘Fuck it, it doesn’t matter’ and I mean if we could all do that as a community then we can all see that we all have double chins sometimes and we all have muffin tops sometimes and like…(laughter)..."
Kyira: “And we are supposed to have these things we believe we are not supposed to have…(laughter)…"
Jade: “It just is, you know like don’t let it get in the way of what you want to do."
Deanna: “One of my earliest, super clear memories...I think I was like 11 years old...and sitting at the family dinner table - mom, dad, sister, me - and we were all having dessert and everyone else in the family was having cake and I didn’t really like cake...they were having cake and ice cream. So instead, I had ice cream with cookies on top and my dad looked at me and said, ‘Do you really think you need that?’ and I was like 'Uhh…what…what do you mean?’. I mean no one I loved had ever made a comment like that to me before about me and my body. And I mean, I was 11, there was nothing wrong with me. I was just 11 years old and hitting puberty and starting to get a shape. And now, I have a kid of my own and he is 13 and when I had him, I made the decision that I was never going to disparage my body in front of him and I was never going to disparage his body either and he is really tall and thin and sometimes people make comments about how skinny he is and I am like, ‘No, he is what he is’."
Kyira: “He is just him."
Deanna: “Yeah, he is healthy and he is just him and he is fine. He is super capable. He does acro, he juggles, he is a martial artist…he is fine. His body is doing everything that he wants it to do and you don’t get to judge it. And I am not going to judge mine either. My body is fine and it is doing what I want it to do and that is the thing that matters the most."
Kyira: “And for you to have been able to have that experience where - and obviously I don’t know your father - but he didn’t likely mean anything other than just making a comment…"
Deanna: “Yeah he didn’t mean to be an ass."
Kyira: “Right, and thinking about this now where from the time where you were 11 till today that has stuck with you."
Deanna: “Right, it sticks with me."
Kyira: “And so you knowing that and knowing how one comment or one experience can impact someone is so important. I was just doing a research paper on the increasingly younger ages we see people with eating disorders and body image issues, with it being as early as 5 and 6 years old now. And at that age, the most common form of learning is through modeled behavior and sofor you to be able to say ‘This experience impacted me and I am going to make a really conscious choice not to model negative self-talk and hatred of my body to my son’ is fantastic. I think most people try to do this but they just don’t realize how those little things that you do like when you get pissed off when you step on the scale and say it loud enough so that your kid can hear, while you may blow it off eventually, they might internalize that message."
Deanna: “Yeah, I mean like he has definitely heard me say things like ‘I am really mad that I can’t do a handstand yet’…"
Kyira: “Right…(laughs)…which is very different than like, ‘I need to be a size 2.’"
Deanna: (Laughs) “Right, very different."
Kyira: “…Or look this way. Instead it’s saying I want my body to function in a way that I am excited and proud about."
Deanna: “Exactly. And so I have been really careful about that. And I mean there was probably a time when I wasn’t as careful but as he got older and I realized the impact this could have on him I thought 'Shit, I can’t say those things’ and I shouldn’t be saying them because I shouldn’t be saying them to myself either."
Kyira: “Yeah, exactly…and I want to be mindful of the time because I know you both have to pop out of here in a couple of minutes but I think both of you, what you talked about, resonates with me with this idea that I have about this tape we all have in our heads that plays and you two choose everyday, or you try to choose everyday and maybe some days you don’t win, to be louder than that tape. And it just really plays this visual for me of what would it be like it we could empower more people to get louder than that tape that is going to be there for the rest of your life."
Jade: “Exactly, yep it will be."
Deanna: “It will be. But you just have to not pay attention to the tape."
Jade: “That was a really nice metaphor, like…"
Kyira: “Ha, I am a very visual person so I always think in visuals and metaphors. But the notion and essence came from the two of you, I just packaged it in a different way."
Deanna: (Laughter) “That’s okay you can package it that way and say that we said it."
Jade: "I mean you can have credit for it (laughter)."
Kyira: (Laughter) “It’s definitely a tribe thing. We did it together and now we have our tag line - let’s get louder than the tape."
Kyira: “Awesome well talking to you has also given me some other ideas of maybe doing something with the project in relation to acro-yoga."
Deanna: “Oh we would love that."
Jade: “Yeah, it is such an open and welcoming community - all body shapes and sizes and it’s a great way to learn that no matter what size and shape you are or how you feel about yourself, you can do shit."
Kyira: “Okay awesome I will definitely follow up with you via email about this so we can chat further because I think that could be such a cool way to bring people together to celebrate their bodies and all that they can do."
Deanna: “Right, I mean and we call it playing because that's what it is. It’s play for adults and we forget how to do that as adults and turn it into, ‘Ugh I have to go exercise' and it’s like no, we have to go play and it’s play that makes your body even better."
Kyira: “I love it. Well thank you so much for taking the time to do this with me and for your willingness to share your story. I am excited about possibly working together in the near future and will be in touch very soon."
Jade: “Awesome, and thank you!"
Deanna: “Yeah, sounds good and thanks."