Bodies in the Backseat

Body Beautiful Through the Eyes of a Young Girl


Every so often on my journey to inspire and empower women I am given an unexpected opportunity to remember the power of impacting young girls.  

A couple weeks ago I was watching my niece Ava play a soccer game. I just love her and her strong willed, independent thinking, deeply compassionate, free spirited way in the world.  (Hmmm…yup, just the kind of women I am drawn to as well!) We are going to do dinner and she chooses to ride with Auntie Annie. As she jumps into my jeep, I remember that I have several body cast art pieces in my back seat.  

    I can see her look at what is next to her and linger for a moment before asking, “What are those Annie?”  I realize she is now staring right at the mélange of breasts, hips and tummies piled next to her. My first thought is, “uh oh!” I actually think for a moment about quickly gathering them up and whisking them to the back of my jeep.  I sometimes still see her as that little preschooler in pigtails but in fact, she is almost a tween. She is soon to be a middle schooler. She is growing up. I pause for a second as all those responsive thoughts run through my mind and decide that I am going to model for Ava the unapologetic, celebratory message I believe deep in my soul, the one I practice for myself and coach women about all the time in my psychotherapy practice and at Hot Pink YOUniversity.  I realize that even if she was still that little pig-tailed girl, this is a moment

to model body love and to take a stand against body shame.

 I go for it…

    I explain to her that these are some of the art pieces done at our winter Camp WOW and featured along with a story each woman wrote about the experience at a recent art exhibit during our Ignite event in Madison, WI.  “You mean, people came to look at these?” I can see the surprise, the uncertainty and also the curiosity. I say simply, “Yes.” “Are these real, like real ladies bodies?” I say simply, “Yes.”  There is oh so much more I want to say to her.  The words and messages come pouring into my consciousness.  I know though that this is her journey and I will let her lead the way.  There is a pause and I think she might be done but true to her depth and intuitive nature she continues and I have to say I am thrilled that she does.  



    “How did they make them?”  I explain to her that Christie and I helped each woman to put plaster strips across the part of their body they chose.  “So, you had to touch their body to do it?” I tell her that indeed we did and how it felt a bit like being an artist. I share that the human form, especially the female form is seen as beautiful and is found in everywhere in art dating back to the earliest times.  “It is?” I share how a woman’s body is so very soft and strong, how it comes in many shapes and sizes, as she already knows, how it can create, grow and birth babies. I tell her about some of the most memorable and powerful paintings, sculptures and poetry I have encountered in my life.  (I see a trip to museums of art in our future adventures). I tell her how I now have mine hanging proudly on the wall in my creative office space.

    “Why did they want to do it?” I speak to her about how important it is to learn to honor and love our bodies and what we mean when we teach “Body Beautiful.”  “Did they get embarrassed?” I tell her that it was different for each woman-just as different as each of their bodies were and that every women felt her own special way about it.  I share how our tribe talked about what we love and what we sometimes struggle with in our bodies. I share how brave each woman was and that it was easier for some than others and that no one had to do it but all of them decided to.  

I told her how powerful it was for each woman to see her own body in a sculpture and how it helped each one to love their body in new ways.  



    “Did any of the ladies not like theirs?”  (Here it is…the inevitable body questioning that even a grade school girl is aware of).  I tell her how that might have been a thought for some of them and then I share the story of one of our tribe who told us before we did the casts that she was a breast cancer survivor and had to have a mastectomy of one of her breasts.  She had always felt that breast looked bad, weird, and even said it looked like an alien boob. I told Ava how this had made the woman self-conscious and how she felt bad in some ways about how her chest looked. “That’s sad” Ava says and I reply, “You’re right, it is and that is just one of the reasons why we wanted to do this activity”.  I went on to share that when this woman saw her body cast she cried and said that she could now see just how beautiful she was and how she chose to decorate her body cast highlighting her chest and telling her story of strength, survival and now a new level of body love. “That’s really good, Annie. It’s really good that you did that with those ladies.”  I simply say, “Yes, it is.”

“We all have a true weight and shape. The one our bodies want to be at naturally when we are taking really good care of ourselves.  This is uniquely our own and is beautifully different than others. This is our true Body Beautiful!” -Ann Murgatroyd-Soe

That, my Firestarter Tribe is Hot Pink Body Beautiful at the core!  Let’s celebrate, create, confront, share, honor, heal and love our bodies and take every opportunity to teach that to our girls…from the time they are little so that they may always have a sense of body love and know how to confront and release body shame.  We know that body casting will be a forever part of the work we do with our students at Hot Pink YOUniversity! ☺

With Lots of Hot Pink Body Love,

Ann Murgatroyd-Soe, CEO of Hot Pink YOUniversity., Author of Ignite Your Life:  Live Life with Passion, Purpose and Play

Christie Gause-Bemis