While Tucson is lucky to have the Body Love Conference as a platform for strong women within our community, there are also amazing women traveling here to speak.
Sonya Renee Taylor, a performance poet and founder and CEO of The Body Is Not An Apology website, is an advocate of being comfortable on the Internet.
It started on Feb. 9, 2011, with a selfie. Taylor had taken a picture of herself that she really loved, but she was self-conscious about what people would think of it.
"In this picture I am 230 pounds. In this picture, I have stretch marks and an unfortunate decision in the shape of a melting Hershey's Kiss on my left thigh," Taylor wrote in the caption, drawing attention to a tattoo she now thinks is terrible. "I am smiling, like a woman who knows you're watching and likes it. For this one camera flash, I am unashamed, unapologetic."
That unabashed message resonated with people. The Body Is Not An Apology, which is named after a poem Taylor wrote, encourages people to practice "radical self-love." Her workshop will focus on "How to Stop Hating Your Body in 30 Days."
Louise Green's goal is also to make women feel comfortable in their bodies, but she's cultivating that in a more specific environment.
"Not a lot of places feel very safe and comfortable for plus-size people to come and sweat with a tribe of their own kind," Green said.
Green, founder and CEO of Body Exchange Lifestyles, is traveling here from Canada to talk about the fitness boot camps and workshops she offers exclusively to plus-size women. "It's about fearless fitness at any size," she said.
Green, who is plus-size herself, says she used to be ashamed to tell people she was a fitness instructor because she didn't look the part.
"I was very much faking it until I made it," Green said, crediting the women she trains as a major inspiration in her own body-love journey. "The women I lead believe in me so much that it gives me power to continue with my message. This is real for me now; this is no longer faking it."
Shanna Katz calls herself a sex educator, an author and a professional pervert.
At the conference, she will deliver a talk focusing on sex and disabilities.
Katz, who says she has personal experience in this area, notes that people with disabilities are often thought of as asexual. Or when they do express interest in sex, hypersexual. Meanwhile, their partners are either seen as martyrs or perverts.
Her talk at the conference will focus on everything from overcoming that social stigma to sexual positions that work for people with disabilities.
"It really is more of a group discussion and brainstorming session so that people leave with really concrete ideas about what they can do to fulfill their needs," Katz said. "We say, 'We have disabilities, we are sexual creatures. What does this look like for us?' We talk about ways that we can navigate the dating and relationship world, ways that we can come out and talk about our disabilities, ways that we can adapt different sexual behaviors—whether it's different positions or parts of the kink lifestyle or different types of sex toys to work for us."
Katz said she is excited about the conference because it will do a great job of catering to body love, with no filters.
"This is one of the first conferences to take body love—and this concept of body acceptance as a whole—and welcome people of all different sizes and all different ability levels and ages and races and cultures." The theme, Katz said, is "It doesn't matter what your body looks like or what size it is. It is beautiful and you should love it."