Body positivity

Bare or made-up, local groups support feeling good about ourselves

Photos from BARE.

Supplied photos

In a society where women are told how they should and shouldn’t look, two online communities are celebrating women, how they want to appear.

Rhianna Saj started Bare, a website that empowers women to feel comfortable in their own skin.

Bare includes a blog page where Saj writes about body positivity.

In one article she says “society has engraved into our minds that we need to rid of our ‘imperfections.’”

Through such writings she invites women to embrace their natural beauty.

Rhianna Saj, creator of BARE.

Saj also had a category on her website called “Dear Me,” that welcomes women to write letters to their younger selves. These letters encourage women to revisit their past insecurities and reflect on how they came to embrace or overcome them.

“Women are held to extremely high standards by society,” Saj says. She thinks many women try to live up to high expectations without asking questions.

Saj says she started her website "to change the conversation for the younger generation."

Bare challenges young women to strip off their makeup and love the person they see in the mirror.

Saj was quick to explain that she's not advocating for women to stop wearing makeup, and she admits that she too wears makeup sometimes.

She wants women to appreciate themselves as they are and to be confident enough to acknowledge their beauty without the need for makeup.

She urges women to take a good look at themselves and understand why they wear it.

“It’s not just about makeup. It’s about changing the way we look at and talk about our bodies. It’s about changing the conversation,” Saj says.

She wants the younger generation to wear makeup because they want to, not because it's expected of them.

A photo of Chelsea Daron Kerr from an online community celebrating make-up.

A photo of Claire from an online community celebrating make-up.

A photo of Erin Schwartz from an online community celebrating make-up.

Jump over to Facebook where a secret group’s mission statement is "a safe, inclusive space to share our deep and intense love in makeup.”

The group celebrates each other and their explorations of makeup, says Arista Petkau, founder of the group.

It is a supportive and judgement-free space, a safe haven where people can be who they really are, Petkau says.

"As the group has grown and evolved, it's become a space where folks are encouraged to be their authentic selves,” Petkau says.

She says, for her, makeup has been a means to connect, but she has also made lifelong friendships through the group.

“I’m constantly humbled and bolstered by the strength and glorious ridiculousness of the incredibly brave folks I get the pleasure of sharing the group with,” Petkau says.

Petkau says their forum is more than just a makeup group. It’s a place where people encourage and accept each other just the way they are. Sometimes people even post photos of themselves not wearing makeup.

A photo of Kristine Rose from an online community celebrating make-up.

A photo of Nicole Ashley from an online community celebrating make-up.

“There's so much respect in that space, room to be vulnerable, room to play, and cry and be whole people,” Petkau says. "For me, that's what's significant. A place for all of us good weirdos to gather and just kinda love each other.”

What brought these women together is their love for makeup, but within the group they foster a positive energy of acceptance.

Petkau says she started the group to create a space where people could lean on each other through their love of beauty and to celebrate the intrinsic pleasure of makeup.

“Since it still has such a negative stigma as shallow and just for men, I needed an outlet where I wouldn't have to deal with that kind of negativity,” Petkau says. “How amazing it is to be able to celebrate each other and all our perceived flaws.”

Published in Volume 70, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 18, 2016)

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