Ivy LaArtista Interview: “The Beauty is Already There”

As 2014 begins, I want to highlight a triumph of 2013: Ivy LaArtista’s website See Body. Love Self. and her Instagram movement #BodyThanks13.

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A few months ago, I decided it was time for Jug Report to get an Instagram. I know, it’s kind of sad that I hadn’t already created a profile, but I was completely unfamiliar with the app’s tricks. I didn’t know the best ways to connect with people on this social media platform, but I was ready to learn. So I started with some exploration, searching hashtag terms such as body image and self-esteem. That’s how I discovered the hashtag “Body Thanks 13,” and ultimately Ivy LaArtista, a makeup artist dedicated to body positivity and someone I was desperate to talk to.

Our phone conversation started off light over laughter and shared area codes, but soon became serious. We quickly got to the matter at hand when I asked Ivy about her inspiration for the blog. As a makeup artist, Ivy was constantly surrounded by the pressures for physical perfection. She said, “As women, we are taught to alter our appearance all the time.” Ivy preferred to use makeup as a form of self-expression or a tool to enhance natural features. Makeup becomes unhealthy, Ivy warns, when it becomes expected. Working with her clients, Ivy began to realize how important it is to have a “healthy and loving relationship with your body.” So, in March 2013, Ivy LaArtista started blogging about her own “body journey,” dubbing it Naked Blogging.

Feeling the need to clarify, I asked what the name of the blog meant. Ivy explained that she wanted to be clear that she was being emotionally vulnerable. The title, according to Ivy, meant that there was “nothing standing between her and the reader.” Ivy wanted to be truly authentic. Again, wanting to thoroughly understand, I asked, “So, not actually naked, right?” Ivy instantly began to laugh, causing the phone to crackle.

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A picture posted on Instagram with #bodythanks13

In March 2013, Ivy decided to make her blogging more official, and thus “See Body. Love Self.” was born. The site is dedicated to celebrating natural beauty, featuring healthy recipes and empowering photo shoots. Eventually, Ivy extended the site to Instagram, a platform geared for being personal. Ivy thought Instagram would be perfect for her blog. It’s so visual that it’s perfect for talking about the body, she explained. And then, for the month of November, Ivy had her followers participate in Body Thanks 13, a movement for people to post pictures of aspects of their bodies that they are thankful for. Inspired by Ivy’s idea, I asked her what she was most thankful for in her body. There was silence on the other line – clearly, the question required multiple answers. I quickly backtracked, asking her which body part was the most memorable for her to post. At that, Ivy answered, “My belly – that was the hardest to do.” She was still working through some self esteem issues when it came to her stomach, even though she recognized it as the place that “carries [her] nourishment.”

But Ivy was adamant about posting that picture, learning to embrace that aspect of her self. “You cannot nurture something that you do not love,” she told me. I shared with her how much I had struggled to accept my chest, something she understood all too well. She laughed ironically at “how much of a story there is about [her] breasts.” Ivy then explained something that I had been struggling to put words to for years. She said that women have been so over-sexualized that they are now less than women. “Of course!” I nearly shouted, excited to finally have a term: over-sexualization. That’s exactly what bloggers such as Ivy and me have been fighting against, and Ivy had named the beast.

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I then asked Ivy what she thought the media wants us to be thankful for. There was a few seconds of silence. “Nothing,” Ivy answered, sounding stunned yet resigned. “We will always be consumers,” she said, “and if women were truly thankful for their bodies, they would have less room as consumers.” It is up to the media, she said, to spread the message of self love so it can be “louder and louder for women to hear.”

As our conversation came to a close, I asked Ivy what was the most memorable thing she has learned through Body Thanks 13. “There is no destination,” she responded. “A lot of people don’t feel adequate because they don’t love their body right now.” Again, Ivy emphasized the importance of loving your body no matter what, and then you can take care of it. You just have to figure out what you are thankful for.

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