Unlearning Internalized Beauty Standards

Unlearning internalized beauty standards and redefining beauty for myself continues to be a big work for me. As a young person, one of the ways several of the kids in my class (especially the girls) bullied me was with the label “fat.” I pointed out that the boys who were my size or larger were not also labeled this way, but it didn’t matter. It wasn’t about them. It wasn’t really about me either, but I took it on. We learn many norms, like body norms of size/shape/hair/etc., through shaming because they aren’t about us. They are about control and power. They are sprayed on us to manage what is socially undesirable and we absorb them like pesticides, poisoning our ability to nourish ourselves. Instead we learn to shame ourselves, to keep ourselves in compliance, and forget we even had a choice in the matter.

In this episode of Unlimited, the podcast, I share a my most recent work to explore my own internalized beauty standards and empower myself through awareness and radical self-love.

Some of what I talk about in this episode includes:

  • Societal and generational learning and unlearning
  • The expansive experience of decolonizing my library
  • Walking through shame toward radical self-love
  • Challenging society’s beauty ideals
  • Intimate relationships and what is “sexy”

Thank you for listening!

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You can email me at valerie@valeriefriedlander.com or DM me on Instagram

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Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love

Plucked: A History of Hair Removal by Dr. Rebecca Herzig

Alok’s IG Book Report Post on Plucked

My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

Stop Telling Women They Have Impostor Syndrome


Allowing Space to Imperfectly Love Your Body and Yourself

Building Confidence Through Boudoir Photography

No, You’re Not Crazy

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The poems in this episode come from my grandmother’s book “Meltwater” published in 1982

Below are the poems along with a photo of my grandmother, Etta Ruth Weigl, signing her book. (You may notice that the recording of “The Sorting: Diaries” is slightly different from the published poem and does not include the word “bohemian.”)

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