Body Image Warrior Week: Sally McGraw

Welcome back to Body Image Warrior Week. A project organized by Sally McGraw of Already Pretty, BIWW brings together 11 amazing, inspiring bloggers who write about body image, why it matters, and what it all means to us.

I can't believe I forgot to include Sally McGraw's post during Body Image Warrior Week! Sally is, by far, my favorite blogger. She's incredibly wise, eloquent, brave, and fearless. She loves clothes and fashion - and has an enviable wardrobe of boots I would kill for. The point of Sally’s posts is that we are already lovely as we are, and we should to treat ourselves as such.  It’s fitting that she’s the driving force behind Body Image Warrior Week, don’t you think?

vintage clothes shop, milan

Cycling Up

You know how, when you’re feeling kinda wretched about the current state of your bod, you tend to lose interest in shopping? And eventually, shopping apathy morphs into diminished interest in clothes? And sometimes THAT indifference becomes an inability to engage in basic grooming?

It’s a fun little cycle, and we’ve all been there. Usually, a girl’s gotta hit bottom to shake loose body blues this severe: A candid party photo of your unkempt self that gives you shivers, a cutting comment from a coworker, or something equally traumatic usually throws our long-rusted self-care gears in the opposite direction.

Now, consider this: What if you forced it? What if – on those days when you looked in the mirror and saw Grendel – you made yourself don a flirty frock, curl your hair, and slip on a sassy set of boots? Would it help or hurt how you felt about your body and face and overall self?

Swear I’m not going all Fernando Lamas on you. Just hear me out.

We’ve already established that the cycle of self-loathing is inextricably linked to the cycle of self-neglect: Feel bad, look bad, feel worse, look worse, and on and on. But I maintain that a cycle of self-love can be perpetuated by a cycle of self-care. If you feel awful about how you look and allow yourself to LOOK as awful as you feel, you spiral down. But if you feel awful about how you look and work against that negativity – beautifying yourself with the tools you have at hand – you spiral up.

When you put effort into your appearance, you are less likely to hide from mirrors, eat nothing but crap, and withdraw from social situations. When you put effort into your appearance, you are more likely to receive compliments – important sources of external feedback that encourage you to CONTINUE putting effort into your appearance. When you put effort into your appearance, you don’t wallow, you move.

Caring about how you present your physical self to the world makes you more present in your body. Presence in your body feeds itself, creating more care. The cycle of self-care feeding self-love creating more self-care allows you to broadcast a profile of self-respect and power. It reminds you that you can control how you feel about yourself. And that’s powerful good stuff.

Personal style can be used as a tool to cultivate self-care and reflect self-respect. No matter how tall you are or where you carry the most jiggle, you can learn to flatter your figure. You can utilize your natural, perfect beauty to reflect your undeniably amazing self outward to the observing world. And when you do, you kick-start the machinery of self-love.

You can choose your cycle. Choose up.

Sally McGraw is a Minneapolis-based blogger, freelance writer, and communications professional who holds a degree in creative writing from Binghamton University. The mission of her daily blog, Already Pretty, is to show that body knowledge gained through explorations of personal style can foster self-love and self-respect.

Image via Fabrye

February 27 – March 3 is Body Image Warrior Week. Throughout the course of this week, you’ll read posts from an inspiring group of women who fight hard against body image oppression through their own words and work.

Participants in Body Image Warrior Week are:


  1. Beautifully stated, as always. I usually do try harder to dress well on those "ugly days" (and I'm also learning not to call them that!) Even though doing this doesn't ALWAYS make me feel that I look my absolute best, it does make me believe that I soon will. More importantly, it reinforces the idea that I'm worth my time, attention, and loving care. And I'm sure it makes me look more confident and beautiful to the outside world.

  2. I so agree with your thoughts on caring for your physical self. But I find myself flinching slightly when the idea of caring for oneself conflates with the practice of shopping, because it absolutely is not necessary to acquire more, more, more in order to sustain a sense of worth - quite the opposite! I suspect that many women do confuse the two - and they go shopping in order to make themselves feel better about themselves, pursuing a magic bullet that will somehow make them prettier (hide those figure "flaws"), more assertive (wear a "statement" necklace), more sexually attractive (show off that cleavage). I don't think that you are saying that women ought to shop in order to boost their self-esteem because they can't do it any other way, but in a world that constantly objectifies people, and women in particular, I would be very careful about recommending the acquisition of more objects to remedy what is basically a psychological need. Certainly, objects can help us - we can use them deliberately to remind ourselves of our beauty and worth. But they are a two-edged sword, and it is so easy to fall into the trap of believing that we would somehow "be" better than we are if we just "had" something that society appears to value. I'm phrasing this awkwardly, but I hope it makes sense.

  3. It's really interesting how the vast majority of body image blogs (especially on this list)focus on very similar issues - dress sizes and eating disorders. I've had a height-related site for some six years (five in blog format - and yes, Sally did link my post), yet my issues hardly ever get press. I'd say that it's true for the growing petite blogosphere (blogs targeting women 5'4" and below) in general (I mean, does anyone who ISN'T petite know about it? Heck, there are petites out there who don't!). And when it does, it's very much lip service. I've even gotten in trouble from body image activists for bringing height up - many feel that it's a non-issue because most short/petite activists are also small framed (think "Olsen" sized). However, as a "standard" of beauty in the fashion world, we are ignored - comments usually come in the form of "you can always alter things" (not true - proportions change when you hack off a couple of inches) or worse, "there's always the kids' department" (shorter, small-framed women are still women - we have curves even at size 00). "Attractive" for us usually comes in the form of adjectives like "cute" or "pint-sized" - even for those who're well over 30 (read magazines to see how celebrities like Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, etc are described). Sometimes, I feel that in order to be a body image activist, you have to wear a size 14 or larger to be taken seriously!


I love my readers! Comments are welcomed and appreciated.