Introduce yourself and let us know your race, ethnicity, background, where you were raised..etc.
My name is Monse. I’m 25 years old, and I’m from Mexico. I studied psychology and am currently a yoga teacher in a small town near Mexico City. I suffered from anorexia & other eating disorders from around age 18 until age 21. I have been fully recovered for almost 5 years now and practice body-positivity every day.
How does your cultural background affect your views on body-image and beauty overall?
I think my cultural background helped me shape a beauty ideal that was unattainable (at least for me). We have a lot of diversity in Mexico from skin color to hair and body shape/size. The media only projects one type of female beauty which means if you’re not between 20-35 years old, fair skinned and really slim, you’re not portrayed as beautiful.
I was very insecure growing up because I’ve always had big hips, bum and legs, and I’m a brunette. I used to see how the women that fit the image I described above got a lot of attention and that made me feel inappropriate. I tried to change my body to fit in more into that beauty ideal and ended up hurting myself and falling into an eating disorder.
Now I know that I’m beautiful for who I am, and I feel happy in my own skin.
How does your cultural background affect your views on body positivity?
I feel like the “war against obesity” and the fact that Mexico is one of the countries with the highest rates of obesity in the world, has a lot to do with the fact that fat stigma is really strong here. We have grown to think that fat = unhealthy and skinny = healthy which can be so wrong.
Society is also less accepting of people who have darker skin in comparison to people with fair skin. Having fair skin gives you a kind of “higher status”. Darker skin is more commonly seen on natives, and has a deeply associated meaning that comes with it.
How does it feel being a woman of color in the online body-positive community?
I consider myself really lucky because I was introduced to body-positivity at a young age and have been exposed to such amazing "bopo" role models. I have never felt inappropriate because of my skin color/ethnicity as a part of the online body-positive community. I have to say, though, that Mexico is really behind on the subject. I’ve seen people from all around the US, Europe, Asia, and many other places be a part of it, but I’ve never seen anyone from Mexico take a stand for the body-positive community.
What’s one thing you want to see change about the way women of color (and their bodies) are represented in the media, on social media, amongst your friends and family?
Specifically as a psychologist, yoga teacher, and a recovered anorexic, I embrace health at every size. I would love to have people from my country/ethnicity be represented as beautiful and healthy at every size. I think we still have a long way to go with fat acceptance and the HAES movement, but if we fight for it, we’ll get there.