Gold with Jeanette Schneider Episode 55: Raising Body Confident Kids with Dana Suchow

Dana Suchow is passionate about the importance of raising body confident children. Bullied for her skin issues and cystic acne, she struggled with body shame and unworthiness at a young age. As a result, Dana grew up hating her body and later developed an eating disorder as she was trying to portray an image of “perfection” as a fashion blogger living in New York City. When Dana started opening up about her struggles, she found a deeper connection with her followers who were also dealing with the same issues.

Since overcoming Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder and exercise compulsion, Dana Suchow has become an expert in the field of body image and eating disorder prevention. Offering a nonclinical and holistic approach, Dana gives parents, teachers and caregivers the tools to prevent eating disorders and raise body confident kids! Dana is an international speaker, and for years she has worked with audiences of 10 to auditoriums of over 1,000. Dana is a frequent Summit Panelist and Keynote Speaker, and has given 15 minute talks to 3 hour workshops. Dana also works with children of all school levels, from Elementary School to College, appearing in person or by video.

In 2012 Dana founded DoTheHotpants.com as a fashion blog, but once she realized fashion’s unattainable beauty standards were fueling her eating disorder, Dana made the powerful decision to leave the industry and focus on eating disorder prevention and activism. In 2014 Dana founded #MyBodyStory, an ongoing storytelling series created to uplift girl’s and women’s voices that so often go unheard. In 2016 Dana co-founded The Ripple, a nonprofit nationwide activist collective focused on helping women make waves in their communities. In 2018, Dana was awarded the Girl Up #GirlHero Award by This Is Us star and activist Chrissy Metz.

Dana lives in New York City and holds a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. You can find her on Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Network, Vogue, Huffington Post, Yahoo, ELLE, Seventeen Magazine and more!

Today Dana and I dig deep into the world of body image. We talk about how to raise body confident children in today’s society, and the importance of learning about diet culture, the companies that try to profit off of our insecurities, and the need to heal the relationship with our own bodies.

I loved this conversation with Dana so much. Her passion for changing the conversation around body image is truly inspiring. We have so much influence over those around us in what we say and do, especially our children. Let’s be conscious of speaking and modeling body positivity and confidence everyday.

You can find Dana on her website at www.danasuchow.com

IG @danasuchow

Facebook @DanaSuchow

Twitter @DanaSuchow

Today Gold is brought to you by LIV Media and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

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LIV meets you where you are and grows with you.

For a limited time LIV is available for free for Apple iOS users. Download LIV today!

Until next time – in the words of my grandma, “Love each other every day.”

In your ears, filling your heart.

Xo,

J

“Love, Me” featuring Emily Nolan

The Love Letters project began a year ago with Jessica Moore’s letter to her younger self. I found that as I got to know the writers I was privy to insights and gems readers were not. I had questions about their struggles and how they overcame, which they very openly shared. I wanted to make the experience more dimensional for everyone involved and began filming interviews over the summer.

We had fits and starts as we worked through storylines and production, but the result is gorgeous. I am so excited to debut the very first “Love, Me” webisode featuring model and author, Emily Nolan. We sat down in Phoenix in August to discuss her love letter (see below) and I was taken by Emily’s willingness to be vulnerable and her deep faith in something Divine. She was a few weeks out from a breast explant and spoke so openly about her lifetime struggle with body dysmorphia and what she hopes to share with every woman and girl.

**Please see submission guidelines if you are interested in sharing your love letter**

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Emily Nolan –

Dear Emily,

You are eighteen years younger than I am and you’re already so incredibly smart, strong and beautiful inside and out. You are the greatest gift God’s ever given the world and you are perfect just the way you are. You were born to be a brave leader. And, most importantly, you’re a fierce lover. You lead with love so divinely well; it’s a special gift you’ll always had unlimited access to. Use love as much as possible.

Dear warrior, use your bravery to listen in to who you are throughout the years. There will be challenging moments that make your heart break, sadly, and you’ll need to be there to love yourself fiercely. You’ll need your friends and family, too, to lean on for help, because you can’t do everything, always. Sometimes you’ll need help. Everyone does.

Those moments of listening to yourself feel like “listening to your gut,” and choosing not to believe in a bully or someone else’s unremarkable opinion of who they think you should be or what you should look like. Later in life, you’ll know those brave moments to be God’s grace. Which is also your own divine grace.

You’re a child of God, Emily. Your parents’ divorce and the bullying at school, and other moments to come that might make you feel icky and sad inside, they do not decide your worthiness. God does. You do. And because you get to decide what a miracle you are, continue to be brave enough to listen in and honor your own inner voice that says, “I’m awesome!” This way, no one will be able to rent valuable space in that precious little noggin of yours. You are a holy vessel. Be brave enough to always believe that. It’s not arrogant to think your God’s greatest gift, its love. And remember, love is what you’re best at.

You’re strength is in being bravely unique. You’ll feel that looking like everyone else is boring and has very little divine purpose. Like, what in the world are we accomplishing here by trying to look pretty? Aren’t there bigger fish to fry? Like who’s on second base and how we’re going to get the third out?

Your fierce bravery will be a rising tide that lifts all boats. Most of your girlfriends are waiting for you to make the move, to feel good enough, just the way that you are, and to allow them the same feeling by being brave enough to own it. They’ll thank you for your courage and permission to be beautiful, just the way they are. And they will support you immensely in the years to come. That bravery you own will make you feel full and good and happy. You’ll say things like, “I’ve never felt closer to God. I’ve never felt closer to myself.” Little me, you were born to be pretty brave.

Being an athlete has taught you that your body is a tool to be used for movement that’s fun and life-giving. Your body is not meant to look a certain way, it’s meant to work! To be useful! Being an athlete makes you a leader; leadership and teamwork will be as important to you as going to school and learning. All of the leadership training you’re getting now, by wearing heavy catcher’s gear every weekend, shouting directions across the field to your teammates, committing to team goals, attending every practice, calling the signals and telling your teammates what to do when the ball comes to them, conflict management with girl drama, all of these skills will be absolutely necessary in your life.

One day, you’re going to have enough courage and leadership skills to believe in yourself. You’ll believe that you can teach women and men and girls and boys that they’re great enough, just the way they are. You will share your love with them in so many kind and gentle and generous ways.

I also want you to know that you’re brave enough now, to ask Mom for help, whenever you need it. Bullies, diets, body image, questions about your body, questions about boys and friendships, ask Mom; she wants to see you win, not suffer in silence. She wants to elevate your bravery, lift you up! That’s her medicine, let her support you. Never feel ashamed to ask her questions. Talking to Mom is always going to help you and you’ll feel so good you did it. Your thirty-year-old self promises.

You are a remarkable young woman, Emily. I love your pigtail braids, dirt smeared across your chin from your catcher’s mask, and your fierce bravery, going onto the softball field shouting out positive affirmations to your teammates. You’re going to use all of these lessons in the next eighteen years as tools to inspire and motivate others to keep moving forward on their own journey until they find the light, which is essentially the love, for everything and everyone, including themselves.

You’re a complete magic trick—how could your precious, pure spirit be so perfectly tucked into that beautiful, capable Earth Suit of yours? I just love you so much. You are a miracle. How could you not be, Emily? You’re a child of God. And you are perfect, just the way you are.

I love you forever,

Emily

Emily Nolan is the author of My Kind of Life.com. She’s also a model and the founder of TOPLESS yoga. #TOPLESSbyemily is a bras on, bellies out self-confidence event used as a tool for self-love. This event is about exposing vulnerabilities by practicing radical self-acceptance.

Emily’s effort to share what is real and authentic in media was the catalyst for the #HealthyBellySelfie social media project contributing to the global conversation around body image.

Emily publicly speaks about her journey through 10 years of disordered eating, plastic surgery, body dysmorphic disorder and shame. She believes that honesty in conversation can spark individual transformation. 

Emily is on Instagram and Twitter @iamemilynolan and Snapchat / Periscope @MyKindofLife_Em