One of GFW Clothing's core principles is inclusivity and our blog celebrates those who are creating a voice and a safe space for people, whether in the arts, sports or workplace. We invite submissions from all who would like to highlight an area they feel passionate about.
Currently most media is dominated by male voices - here is statistic for you; an analysis of women's voices versus men's voices in 25 years of films winning the Academy Award for Best Picture shows that women speak 80% less than men in these films.
This extreme imbalance in gender representation also extends to representation in literature. And if women's voices are under representative as a whole what about the completely un-represented?
We are so used to the status quo that often we do not realise how out of kilter our society is.
Second in our series we have a guest post by Savy Leiser, author.
Authors, I have realized, have an incredible power: to shape readers’ thoughts and ideas-- which will then shape the culture around us-- through storytelling. But as we all learned from Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Writers have the ability to influence the future, so we need to make sure that influence is creating the world we want to see.
Many stories of the past include harmful messages that reflect a less accepting time period. As a kid, books, movies, and TV taught me that having body dysmorphia made me a superficial popular girl, rather than just your everyday nerd with a mental illness. They taught me that bisexual women loved attention and made out with anything with a pulse. And as far as I knew, they never even addressed the intersection of body image and the LGBT+ community.
Within the past few years, the ownvoices movement has brought a beautiful new dimension to literature. Authors are creating stories based on experiences they have had themselves, allowing these books to speak to the nuances of each identity. Non-white authors are writing about racial tensions in America; LGBT+ authors are writing about their experiences coming out; authors who have lived with mental illness are writing about how that has felt for them. While it’s still true that anyone can write about anything, there’s something special about books like Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down, which add so much authenticity to fiction.
My new novel, Sculpt Yourself, grew from my experiences with body dysmorphia. Leading up to the novel’s release, I hosted a series on my blog about body image in the LGBT+ community, where I had friends share their stories about how fitting outside of mainstream heteronormativity only amplified existing body insecurities. That full series can be found here: http://www.savyleiser.com/search/label/Novels
Sculpt Yourself features characters with all different body types and all different relationships to body image. One of the reasons I instantly fell in love with the clothes at GenderFreeWorld is the range of different shapes offered. I’m a small-ish woman with giant boobs. Growing up, I was always told that was “a good problem to have.” But having a chest nearly 30 cm wider than your waist is terrible when you want to find clothes that fit you, especially when you don’t feel comfortable dressing in many traditionally feminine styles. (And, as an author, I don’t exactly make enough money to afford breast reduction just yet…)
The Billie shirts are the first button-downs I’ve been able to close over my chest completely, outside of the times I’ve had to buy shirts four sizes too big that leave the rest of my body swimming. But it’s more than just finding clothes that fit my own body; clothes that are sold by body shape, not just size, are so important, and I wish more companies would make their clothes this way. Making clothes for all different bodies is the first step in creating a culture where people love themselves. I’d like to think that writing books about this topic is another important step.
Sculpt Yourself released on November 2, 2018. It’s currently available on Amazon, on my website, and on my publisher’s website. And now, as of March 1, 2019, the audiobook is available as well! In the true spirit of the ownvoices literary movement, Sculpt Yourself is written by a queer woman with body dysmorphia (me!), addressing body image issues in the LGBT+ community. Not only that, but the audiobook is also recorded by a queer woman with similar body image struggles in the past. We recently discussed all of this in an interview, viewable here.
If you’ve read this far, thank you so much for reading my blog post, which I swear is much more rambly than my novels are! If you’d like to check out Sculpt Yourself, the audiobook is now available on Audible.
Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions or comments!
Author, The Furever Home Friends (2017)
Beauty King (2016)
Sculpt Yourself (2018)
Founder & Owner of The Furever Home Friends, LLC
Editor, Writer's Confidante
Writer, Halftime Magazine
Teacher, Open Books