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A Chat About Sexism, Stereotypes, and Unapologetic Confidence

A Chat About Sexism, Stereotypes, and Unapologetic Confidence

Instagram: @gracenedeau

Julia Blandford: First off, how would you describe your body?
Grace Nedeau: I don’t know, I guess I would just say that it’s my own. I don’t think my body is anybody else’s but mine. I’m a very comfortable person. I’m comfortable with what I have, and I’ve never really questioned my looks. I just try to enjoy what was given to me.

Awh, that’s a good answer! So what are the things that you love about your body? 
It’s hard, I’ve never actually been asked that question. To be honest with you, my height is actually something that I really enjoy. I’m a fairly small person, I think I’m like 5’2-ish, and I think that sometimes we have this idea of an ideal height that we want to be. I don’t know, I’ve never thought to be any shorter or taller, I love my size.

What sort of things do you love about yourself in general? Like personality traits and such?
 I’m a very outgoing person- I’ll talk to you about anything at anytime, no matter what. I’m a very articulate person, I would say; I love having deep conversations with people, I really do. That’s the thing, I love building up those genuine relationships because I think that those are the most important.

Is there anything that you don’t like about your body, or something that you wish you could change?
No, there isn’t. There are plenty of things about me that were given to me by my mom- my mom and I are very similar people, look-wise, personality-wise. There are so many parts of her that I see in myself, and to me, having that special relationship is really amazing. I think we often lose sight of where we came from- you weren’t just chosen to be the way you are, you were made that way. So I would definitely say that there isn’t a single thing that I don’t like about myself, because I was made the way I am by people that I absolutely love. I would never change that.

“I’m a very, very real person. I want people to know me for who I am”

To be honest, I was worried that people were gonna be like, “Ugh, why is Julia interviewing some blonde, skinny girl about her body?” But I want to show that body image affects everyone, even someone who is petite or fit. 
It’s so true!! I’ll be honest with you, I think that a lot of people just look at me and are just like, “Oh, she’s a typical skinny, blonde girl.” That’s an instant judgement. I’ll even ask you this, did you think that you were going to get the response from me that you did? Nope. I’ll have a conversation with someone, and afterwards they’re like “Oh.” I’m a very, very real person. I want people to know me for who I am, and I think that a lot of people know me for my Instagram. Gosh, the last two pictures I posted were of me in a bikini, and what do you think people think of me? They probably just think I’m trying to show off, or get attention for my body, but that’s absolutely not true.

At the end of the day, maybe if people stopped judging others and saying “what if”, and they actually asked the question, they would learn a lot more about others. Like for this post, if someone sits down and reads this, maybe they’ll be surprised by what they learn about me. I’m a person, not an image.

What role does fitness play in your life? I feel like sometimes we subconsciously think that people who love the gym are vain, but there’s a lot more to health than just being “fit”. 
Fitness and feeling well are two different things. The gym though, that could be a whole other interview. You walk in, and people are always there with an intention. They’re either there to workout, to find a guy or impress some girl, etc. It’s like gosh, can we just go and sweat a little? Ugh, the gym can just feel so fake!! When did working out become this negative thing? It’s all about looking a certain way! I just like to go, workout for an hour, leave, and feel good. For me, fitness makes me feel awake, it starts my day, it clears my head. I do think that every single person should try working out, no matter what type of exercise you like. If you want to go walk on the treadmill for a few minutes, do it! A lot of us today are so wrapped up in what we want to look like, but forget about actually exercising to feel good. 

“I try to ignore other influences and just be myself. There’s so much alikeness nowadays, and I think that girls need to learn to go back to just being them.”

Has anyone ever made comments to you about your body or the way you look? 
Oh, totally. For a long time, I was super, super tiny, and I didn’t really develop until I was older. Once I got to high school, all of my friends were developing curves and boobs, and I didn’t have that womanly body like the rest of them. A lot of people asked me if I was sick, which was really offensive. Unless I was really close with someone, I wouldn’t ever ask someone if they’re anorexic. I mean, if you really want to know then fine, ask me. I’ll tell you no. Aside from the eating disorder comments, I’ve had a real problem with being approached by men. Since being at this school, which has only been a year and a half, I’ve gotten approached by like six men. Why can’t I put my leggings on, walk to the gym, and just live my life? That sort of sexism will never change, you just have to learn to be oblivious to it.

What are your thoughts on the expectations for women’s bodies nowadays? 
I think that you should look your age. It’s such an issue now, girls trying to look so much older than they are. Obviously there’s lots of trends on social media, and ways to make your butt look enormous or whatever. I’m only 19, but when I look back at old photos of myself, I always say to myself, “I loved who I was, I love who I am, and it’s because of the fact that I just lived my age.” Enjoy yourself! Girls need to learn to be present with who they are and where they are.

My motto is to “swim against the tide”, and I’ve always tried to live by that. I try to ignore other influences and just be myself. There’s so much alikeness nowadays, and I think that girls need to learn to go back to just being them. Girls would be surprised to learn how happy it could make them to just be themselves, rather than trying to be like another individual or image.

“For me, loving myself is worth so much more than looking a certain way”

If you could give advice to girls about their body-image or self-acceptance, what would it be?
I would say that the first step to self-love is recognizing things that you love about yourself internally. Don’t look at the outside parts. That was my biggest step, and I was lucky to have found myself at such a young age. I think that everyone really needs to truly find themselves at some point in their life, even if that takes time. Just try to look for those things inside of you, whether it’s your ability to hold a conversation with someone, or you’re really good at math. Find things about yourself that you love, and there’s no shame in that. Honestly, I do love myself. I love myself to death, and I always try to put myself first. For me, loving myself is worth so much more than looking a certain way.

Girls nowadays are so stuck in this mindset that they aren’t allowed to love themselves. They think that they can’t love themselves because of how other people will perceive that confidence, or they can’t wear leggings because of the way their body looks. People, especially girls, should start loving themselves no matter what. One day, the people around you won’t be there anymore, but you always will. You always have yourself. You, at the end of the day, come into this world alone, you leave the world alone, so you might as well love yourself through it all. People will say what they want to say, but at the end of the day, how do you perceive yourself? That’s what matters most.

Just in general, women need to love one another as well. Girls tend to judge one another so much, and it’s an awful thing. We’ve lost that sense of sisterhood; our female bond is such a powerful thing. We women are very much the same, as well as being very different. We all go through so many of the same struggles, and we have this special, maternal flame inside of us. Why are we taking each other, and ourselves, down when we could be lifting one another up? Whether it’s body image, sexuality, or whatever, us girls need to love and accept one another