Friday Feature: Meet Melody Kiersz

Melody Kiersz is an inspirational speaker, retreat leader, and Body Empowerment Coach. She is on a mission to boost women's self-worth, body image, radical self-love, and fearless authentic expression so they can have the confidence they need to take their love life and business to the next level. Melody is the founder of Naked Wellness and creator of Velvet Butter

Meet Melody.

Faten Abdallah (FA): Why is body image such a controversial topic in society?
 Melody Kiersz (MK): I'm not sure if controversial is the word, but it sure is a huge and important topic these days. Many women are waking up to the fact that we've been taught to adhere to a certain standard of beauty, and they are seeing that they have the power to redefine what beauty is for themselves.

We're seeing movements like the Body Image Project, the NU Project and hashtags like #effyourbeautystandard (this last started by Tess Holliday, the first real plus size model signed to an agency) take off, and women sharing pictures of their 'imperfect' bodies and calling each other to love themselves as they are.

As someone who's been speaking and sharing about self-love and body image for years, I'm very happy to see this happening. We're starting to see images in the media shift to incorporate more types of bodies, such as with Melissa McCarthy starring in Spy. Not only was she hilarious, she was also sexy as hell, showing how attractive a woman with a fleshier body can be. We're also seeing actresses and female music stars push back on the media pressure to look a specific way in order to be successful or attractive.

It's a very exciting time right now, and I'm very happy to see women empowering themselves and each other to change the conversation about what it means to be and feel beautiful.

FA: What are some ways women can fight negative body image?
MK: There are many ways to create space for a more positive body image to emerge. Some are more direct, and others a bit roundabout. That's because a negative body image in itself is an issue of thinking we need to 'fix' ourselves in some way, and taking an approach of fixing our body image problem is in some ways counterproductive.

Here are some suggestions:
1. Shift your visual diet
We are constantly bombarded with images trying to sell us a lifestyle that 'requires' us to look a specific way in order to be loved and successful. While it's impossible not to see all these images (and skinny is also beautiful), you can make a point of looking at and appreciating images of all kinds of bodies. There's plenty of body-positive images on instagram (you can follow me @melodykiersz for some), but you can also find some online to print and place around your house in places where you will see them every day. Another option is going to a Burlesque show: they are fun, and known to have people of all shapes, ages and sizes flaunting their stuff on stage.

2. Add daily self-care practices
We spend so much time criticizing the image in the mirror, which is why it's important to counteract this with self-care practices that tell our body how much we love it. You could write a love letter to your body, schedule a massage, go to the sauna or steam room, take a bubble bath... even taking a few minutes every day to caress your body lovingly makes a huge difference in how much you appreciate it.

3. Slow down and increase your pleasure
In our culture, pleasure is both something we pursue and a dirty word. But let's face it, we wouldn't want to be alive if pleasure wasn't available, now would we? So whatever it is that brings you pleasure and enjoyment, do it more. Is it chocolate cake? You have my full permission to indulge in it, but it has to be without guilt. Instead of taking it into your mouth without thought, slow down and look at it, smell it, savor it with all your senses. Or maybe you love to dance, so go ahead: put on some music, and shake your booty like no one is watching. Enjoy every stretch of your skin and movement of your muscles. Or to paint, or draw, or write. Do more of the things that make you feel good, and also pay attention to each thing that brings you pleasure in each moment: it could be the breeze caressing your skin, the delicious scent of garden roses, or a beautiful landscape.

4. Radical self-love
We all have things we don't like about ourselves, and there's no shame in that. But even if you don't like them, you can still love them. Just like maybe you don't like a relative but there's still love and appreciation for them in your heart. Whenever you encounter these parts of yourself that you don't like, try not to shut them off and open your heart to offer them compassion instead. Doing this helps us to feel supported and loved from the inside out so that we are no longer needing the approval of others to feel happy and confident.

5. Safety
A huge reason why women don't feel confident in their skin is also because they don't let themselves. The thing is, when we feel confident, we attract more attention. Sometimes that feels good, but sometimes we don't know what to do with it or it makes us feel like we're not safe. Many times women shrink their radiance to protect themselves, so it's important that they find ways to feel safe no matter the feedback we get from the outside. You can take some martial arts classes, learn the art of saying NO powerfully, and how to communicate your boundaries in a way that they (and you) are respected without having to shut down on your beautiful feminine radiance.

FA: How does body image affect you?
MK: In my view, the issue of body image is a lot more than just skin deep. It's driven by a deep need to have others approve of us because we've sadly been taught that there's something wrong with us since we were little. That no one will love, appreciate and respect us unless we look, be or behave in a particular way.

As women, we're not just taught to stay physically small. We are told we shouldn't be too loud, or too demanding or too selfish. That if we speak up or give directions, we're being bossy. We're essentially taught to not make up too much of a fuss, because no one likes that. We're told in implicit ways that if we take up too much space or too much attention we are casting a shadow over our playmates. We get mixed messages that we should stand out and be better than the other girls, and at the same time not shine so bright that we make them feel inadequate.

This push and pull leaves women feeling trapped. Like they're damned if they do show up in all the sparkle, and their also damned if they don't. It leaves us stuck and feeling like we can't win no matter what we do because we're either going to end up without friends, or we're going to end up without the intimate relationship and/or career that we want. So we play small in life, always wishing things were different.

Bringing it back to the pure physicality of it, having a poor body image leaves us without the confidence and power to go after the things we care about. We spend so much time and energy worrying about how big our ass is and whether we can wear a crop top or not that we have none left for our own projects, dreams or to even think about all the ways in which we could contribute to our communities.

As a general rule, women are prone to think collaboratively, look at the big picture and care about having a community that supports them and others who are facing similar issues. If women spent less time looking at the mirror and wishing they looked different, all that energy could be spent on creating supportive community services that can really have a positive impact on society and the world.

That's why I'm so passionate about the work that I do: when we let go of our focus on looking good and start putting our energy on the things we truly care about, we not only feel so good that our body image and confidence skyrockets, but we're also creating positive change for everyone around us.

FA: How can women build confidence in viewing themselves positively?
 MK: Asides from the tips above, it's also important that women surround themselves with supportive sisters who boost each other's self-confidence. As women, we tend to look at each other and compare, sometimes wishing we had her legs or her nose or her hair. We might even have the thought "Who does she think she is?" when we see a confident woman walking down the street; we feel intimidated and like she's going to get all the things we want. When you notice yourself having that thought, flip it: can you admire this woman and feel inspired by her courage to let herself be seen in her glow? If she can do it, so can you! So every time you see a woman like that on the street, it's a reminder to believe in and love yourself more.

FA: What inspired you to work in this field?
 MK: I've had my own struggles with not just how I felt in my body, but also feeling like I always had to be a 'good girl' and not rock the boat, or risk people (and men!) not liking me. I've always had great boobs, but I I thought that's the only thing guys were attracted to, and I was afraid of scaring them away by asking for what I want or saying how I really felt about something. I thought they would think I'm asking for too much from them, or that I'm too emotional.

Even when I did 'manage' to attract a guy, they would lose interest because I didn't stand up for myself. I thought I thought I was the best most understanding girlfriend in the world and they didn't deserve me, but the reality was that my self-worth was so low that I thought I needed to bend over backwards to keep the guy... and I wasn't even satisfied with the relationship!

I've done a lot of work in the last 13 years to undo all these subconscious patterns that were keeping me trapped. And I see so many women stuck in the same! I want to support them in realizing they are already worthy of love and they don't need to deprive themselves of the foods they like or expressing what they really want in order to be lovable and respected.

FA: What have you learned about yourself as you promote positive body image?
 MKThat I'm pretty tenacious when it comes to spreading the message of radical self-love, especially of all the parts we don't want to see in ourselves (physical, mental or emotional). I really want everyone to deeply get how worthy of love and appreciation they already are. I've definitely given up on spreading this message a few times, but when I check in with myself this is what always comes up and I get back in the saddle. Giving myself the gift of working on something I'm so gifted and passionate about is one of the ways in which I love myself.

FA: Anything else you would like to add? 
MK: Absolutely: for those ladies who are reading this and seeing themselves reflected in my words, please reach out. I'm opening my calendar for 10 complimentary consultations to discover how you're getting in the way of letting the amazingly sexy and powerful woman you carry inside outside of the box of 'shoulds' and out into the world. You can reach me at

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blog Widget by LinkWithin

wibiya widget

Facebook and Twitter