Thursday, May 20, 2010

Radical Woman Q & A with Sally McGraw, Writer, Minor Style Guru and Author of

Today’s Radical Woman Q & A is with Sally McGraw, a blogger, free lance writer and minor style guru. Sally writes a fabulous blog called Already Pretty. The tagline of the blog reads, “Helping you recognize your own beauty, one post at a time” somehow that sums up what exactly makes what Sally so radical. On Already pretty, Sally shares her own daily outfit creations, style advice, contests & giveaways and my favorite, her “Body Image Musings,” posts that challage norms, & inspire and affirm  healthy self-images. I have shared links to her these fabulously crafted rants on more than one occasion (check out What We Can Control, The Big Secret, The Story of Your Body.)

Q: What made you start your blog, Already Pretty?

A: A coworker friend had approached me for some personalized style advice, and I was positively giddy at the prospect of telling her what she could and couldn't wear. I wrote up a list of guidelines - seasonal style rules, wardrobe basics, and the like - and handed it over a week before our little closet consult. She was blown away and said, "You should put this on a blog. People would love it." So I did. Because I ALWAYS do what I'm told.

Q: What do you hope your readers get out it?

A: My entire blog is dedicated to helping women accept their own beauty and love their own bodies, and I am constantly finding new ways to discuss and explore body image as it relates to style. My hope is that the blog will show my readers that clothes are tools that should reflect their amazing selves outward to the observing world.

Q: How did you make the shift from writer to style guru?

A: Question #1 kinda answers this … but basically, when I finally accepted that I would never get rid of my spare tire or my breeding hips, I started buying clothes that drew the eye to my tiny waist, my shapely shoulders, and my delicate ankles instead. I learned that I as a total knockout even if I wasn't built like a lingerie model. And I started dressing well and dressing up. Friends and coworkers took notice, and began to ask for input and advice. I started the blog, joined a thriving community of style bloggers, and expanded my audience. I’m grateful to them every day.

Q: On the blog you list links to other blogs you deem "Body ImageWarriors."Warriors fight battles, how would you describe the battle they fight?

A: Arduous. The body image battle has multiple fronts: There are media messages that need to be altered, products that should either be obliterated or marketed differently, long-held beliefs that need adjusting, and internal concerns that need addressing. There is much to do. And at this point, I feel like we’re just starting the conversations that need to take place in advance of formulating action plans.

Q: What are your philosophies on food? On exercise?

A: My feelings about food have shifted recently since I found out I’m glucose intolerant. For years, I ate what tasted good, ate when I was stressed, ate whatever was free in the office breakroom. With new dietary restrictions, I’ve had to learn about what my body actually wants as opposed to what my emotions THINK that my body wants. A donut may sound great, but it’ll give me heartburn, pimples, and a yeast infection. (I am not exaggerating.) A friend once said that decisions about food should mostly answer this question: What is this food going to do FOR ME? Food is not simply fuel. It’s a social, emotional, personal concept that we all deal with daily. But food is also fuel, and most of what I take in needs to have a specific purpose. I strongly believe that every able-bodied human should get regular, vigorous exercise. I don’t care how young, old, fat, thin, busy, or tired you are. You need to move around every single day. I also believe that there is a type of exercise that makes every human body happy, and it's up to each individual to find hers. I hit the gym four times per week for maintenance and am limited to that during the winter, but I bike to work as often as I can when it’s warm. And I never knew that exercise could be joyous and fun until I started biking. The gym is great, but look elsewhere, too. Roller derby, trampolines, kickball leagues … there are COUNTLESS ways to get your body moving. Find one you love, and love it up.

Q: Personally what helped you to discover your own healthy body image?

A: I can honestly say that writing a letter to my body was the turning point. I did that in June of 2008 (Letter to My Body- Part 2),and the experience was truly transformative. I still struggle to love and accept my body on a daily basis, so it's not exactly a done deal ... but I feel real tenderness and affection toward my physical form now, and that is still very new.

Q: How do you think developing personal style is related to self-love and acceptance?

A: The path to body comfort lies in remembering that you are NOT solely defined by your weight or dress size or BMI. Your body is a complicated system that demands respect and understanding, and it's well worth your while to learn to respect it and strive to understand it. If you treat your body as an ally instead of an enemy - if you learn to accentuate its strengths and natural beauty through figure flattery - it will repay you in confidence and radiance and joy. Dressing well - and in a manner that lets you radiate natural confidence - is a way of showing the world that you respect yourself. And a great way to demand that the world respect you, too.

Q: What advice would you like to give women out their struggling to recognize their own beauty, struggling to embrace that they are “already pretty?”

A: Negative body image is a complex little beastie that draws upon many reservoirs of power, and no single action can eradicate it. But I believe that every woman is truly beautiful, and deserves to feel so. It took many years of experimentation, but I learned to recognize my own physical beauty, not by drastically altering my body's shape, but instead by dressing to draw attention to my best features. I learned to use clothes as tools. And I believe that every woman could reach into that toolbox, rummage around a little, and extract something flattering, renewing, and empowering.

But for those who don’t care to explore body-love through style, I’d say this: Never let anyone make you feel ashamed of your body. Ever. Your body is your own, and it is a celebration of who you are. If someone or something tries to make you feel shame about your size, shape, color, configuration, or age, dismiss it out of hand. It is a lie. Period.

Q: You love shoes! Maybe it's a no brainer to most women, but can you tell me why?

A: Shoes are the foundation of an outfit – quite literally – and they have a very pragmatic function. But they’re also some of the most sculptural items that we can use to adorn our bodies. My dad is an architect, and I’ve always been drawn to certain forms and figures. I can’t often find them in dresses or skirts, but I can find them in shoes. Jewelry can be sculptural, expressive, and architectural, too …but the pieces that express these traits are often wildly expensive or extremely flashy. Funky, outlandish shoes can sneak into an office-friendly outfit fairly easily. And for that, I love them.

Sally, you are surely a body image warrior.   The conversations you are starting are exactly what the the world needs.  I have no doubt that the work you are doing is changing the lives of many women, and the generations that will follow them. Thank you for answering my questions and thank you for having the courage and the passion to be radical!


So you, with the chin hair and the abundant freckles. You, with the skinny arms and legs, the stretch marks, and the monkey toes. You, with the spare tire, the graying hair, the apple bottom.
There is nothing wrong with you. 
You are beautiful.
Right now, today, just as you are.
- Sally McGraw


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