Oh hi there, Internet stranger, I'm new to this wonderful haven of self love, so excuse me if I have zero idea wtf I'm doing. I'm a rambler, so in 10 minutes when you realize this thread is never-ending I will not blame you for exiting stage left. That being said, let's get down to business... I've been encouraged to share why body positivity is important to me, so please grab a glass (jk lol bottle) of wine, get comfy af and say a little prayer for the patience to power through this mess so we can discuss why it's important to you too. I've always been the epitome of awkward, like I'm talkin' 2 feet taller than everybody, with a little chunk and a ridiculous haircut at all times. Being a giant meant I looked older than I was and so I was usually treated as such which at the time I was stoked about, though I see now that it wasn't as beneficial to me as I had hoped. I spent a lot of time trying to look and act more mature than I really was, and with that came a wave of fear when I realized I didn't really fit in anywhere. So I tried to be smaller, or quieter or prettier, or participate in whatever the fad was (super unfortunately for me it was the emo mall rat look, studded belts and back combed hair, très chic). ANYWAY. You get the idea, I was the Awkward Emo BFG who became obsessed with how I looked to others. I don't know how many summers I spent in a XL hoodie because I thought I was too fat to take it off, which really upsets me now. I was only 10 or 11 when I started to feel self conscious about my body, but I realize today that society had been conditioning me to think that way since day one. Every day we are surrounded by thousands of adverts, pushing their narrative of perfect or pretty or better and whether we realize it or not those messages register to us; trust me I have 1900 liquid lipsticks that are almost identical sitting in my bathroom right now (wahhh). The shows we watch, the toys we purchase, the classic pretty white girl damsel main character whose only purpose in life is to find a husband to save her - all of these little pushes are subconsciously forming our views and values and setting a bar for our worth. When I realized this in Junior High a switch went off in my head because I woke up one day and was like "FUCK THIS!" and McKenzie the sweatpants-hair tied-chillinwithnomakeupon was born. It's an empowering feeling when you finally do not give a single shit if people like you or not. I was lucky enough to find out who I was at such a young age, so I'm involved in body positivity because I know a lot of people weren't as lucky and I want to spread the message that you are allowed to like yourself even if other people don't. Now that my little sister, nieces & cousins are getting older, I'm more aware that their entire world is so fast paced and almost entirely online. When you think about all the viral videos and trash trends we see and participate in on our newsfeeds,and realize that our children are exposed to it as well it's terrifying. They have to grow up so much faster and I don't want them to see these people with needles in their lips on Instagram, selling waist trainers and butt implants with 5 different filters on them and think that it's real or normal. We are responsible for the examples we're setting by actively keeping up the charade of perfection online. These kids are on Musically belly dancing in clothing I wasn't allowed to wear til I was 17, shaking their little pre-pubescent bodies trying to act like their surroundings and idols. My babies are the real reason I make an effort to speak on self-love, because I didn't have the representation or community that is making waves now; and I don't ever want them to hear a compliment that they "look thinner" and spend hours tracing their collar bones, plotting how they're going to keep it up, because being thin is the ultimate value to their lives. We can do better. I spent so much time trying to be older than I was that it actually hurts to see this next batch of nuggets doing the same for some likes on an app. Young boys don't need abs and sculpted traps, young girls don't need to look like Kylie Jenner, nobody should have to change themselves in order to merit respect or love or worth. This movement has given me the push to own up to what we're putting out there and make it my job to pull back the curtain and show people that at the end of the day, The Wizard is really just a regular degular shmegular human with bags the size of golf balls, zits that come at super inconvenient times and honestly, he's on his 4th day of dry shampoo.