Sunday, March 18, 2012

Inspiring Women: Sally McGraw: Style and Body Appreciation

Sally’s mission statement for Already Pretty reads in part: “My primary mission is to show that body knowledge gained through explorations of personal style can foster self-love and self-respect.

Like Ariel who finds “color…where there appears to be none”, Sally seeks inspiration “everywhere,” particularly from fellow fashion bloggers towards whom she is unfailingly generous, as the representation in her weekly Lovely Links post demonstrates.

And Sally’s style, clothes and colors and textures, is impeccable, helped by the clear photography and frequently lovely open air settings she chooses. Whether it’s focusing on a particular piece of clothing as in this essay on blazers, or advising readers where to buy or consign clothes (she places particular emphasis on thrift stores,) Sally offers an endless stream of tutorials and novelty.

Sally’s blog combines great style advice and examples with serious consideration of women's body image. She writes also that through dressing beautifully she began to appreciate her own body. This post includes a generous quote that expresses Sally’s body experience masterfully.

Body Gratitude is an excellent example of Sally’s aims, where she lists ten qualities she appreciates about her physical appearance and capabilities, following a few identifiable disatisfactions.

In response to a feminist documentary that makes her question her focus on clothes and style and body, Sally frames her work: “The point is not to feel beautiful. The point is to feel powerful, capable, invincible. The point is not to feel pretty. The point is that you’re already pretty, and once you’ve accepted that, you free up an enormous amount of mental space for other things. And, in the vast majority of cases, those other things have nothing to do with shoes or moisturizer or nipped-in waistlines. Tools. They’re just tools. Weapons, even. They help you build and craft the external you, so that the internal you can do her work unimpeded.”

Similarly, read the encouragement she gives other women not only to appreciate themselves but to say so out loud:

“Wouldn’t you love to hear more women talking about their amazing legs, fabulous shoulders, and flawless skin? Wouldn’t you feel empowered by overhearing a pack of ladies lauding their superior strength and sensual curves and undeniable grace? … I constantly ask women to cast off their self-focused negativity and accept their own beauty. But it would be equally beneficial to encourage women who have ALREADY accepted themselves as gorgeous beings to say so. Aloud. Declarations of self-admiration and bodily-love are brave and inspirational acts, not indicators of conceit. And we who struggle should acknowledge them as such.”

Sally’s writings on self-care and fitness are equally noteworthy explorations of how her practices sustain her healthy self-image, showing what works for her and ultimately brings her joy that it may help her readers towards something that works for each.

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