'Body Talk' Author Katie Sturino Wants You to Know Your Body Is Not Your Problem
"Would you say, 'You look like shit today' to a friend? So don't do it yourself."
Sundays are a day to recharge and reset by hanging with friends, turning off your phone, bathing for hours on end, or doing whatever else works for you. In this column (in conjunction with our Instagram Self-Care Sunday series), we ask editors, experts, influencers, writers, and more what a perfect self-care Sunday means to them, from tending to their mental and physical health to connecting with their community to indulging in personal joys. We want to know why Sundays are important and how people enjoy them, from morning to night.
Throughout her career, author of Body Talk, founder of Megababe, and fashion influencer, Katie Sturino has been talking about body acceptance through the lens of fashion. After starting her blog, the 12ish Style, in 2014, she transferred the conversation to her Instagram account, which now has over 600k followers. "I originally started the 12ish Style because I wanted to help women get dressed," the 37-year-old tells HelloGiggles. "However, it quickly evolved into a platform where I was just helping women of all sizes accept their body." But Sturino isn't just a fashion influencer—she is also an owner of wellness and beauty brand Megababe and, now, an author; her first book, Body Talk (which came out on May 25th) discusses learning how to embrace your body.
Co-written with writer Amelia Diamond, Sturino explains that she wanted to take the things she did on her Instagram (self-care talks, honest conversations about our bodies, etc.) and put them into Body Talk to make a more "tangible, offline tool to help people accept their bodies in a more structured way, " as she explains.
"Body Talk is a full workbook/guidebook that is interactive and can help you pull out the specifics of your own journey," Sturino continues. "So if you're speaking negatively to yourself, I hope I can help you uncover [the why]. And if there are people in your life or things in your life that make you feel bad, I hope I can help you uncover that with Body Talk."
Before writing the book, Sturino's relationship with her own body was something she says she was trying to "outrun." As she explains: "I was trying to make it something that it wasn't because I was trying to have it fit into this world that didn't really fit my body. And when I realized that I have a regular-ass body, and the fashion industry, media, society—basically everyone around us—is just making me feel bad about having a regular body, I was like, 'Wait, hold on a second. There's actually nothing wrong with being a size 12 or 14 or any size.'"
For Sturino, that realization was one of the most powerful things that happened to her. "I've realized that it's not just plus-size women or bigger women who are struggling with body image—quite often, it's smaller women who deal badly because they are four and not a two or a six and not a not a four," she says. "None of our bodies are the problem. It's everything else around us."
For this week's Self-Care Sunday, we sat down with Sturino to talk about Body Talk, body neutrality, and her own self-care practices.
HelloGiggles (HG): What are your views on body positivity and what do you want people to know?
Katie Sturino (KS): I will say that body positivity is a term that that implies that you're supposed to be positive about your body or love every part of your body. And I admittedly don't necessarily want to write my cellulite a love letter. I don't want to talk to my double chin and say, "Hey, I love it." I just don't let it rule my life. I kind of see it, acknowledge it, and flip the conversation into something a little bit more positive. And I think that is more along the lines of body acceptance versus body positivity or even body neutrality. Also, body acceptance and body neutrality are kind of a similar thing for me, because it just means, "yeah, okay, I see it, but like, let's move on."
HG: Are there any self-love practices or regimens you'd suggest others do if they're struggling with their relationships with their bodies? What has worked for you?
KS: Well, I would say one of the best things you can do for yourself—and I talked about this in Body Talk—is to sell your "failure clothing" because it's not helping anyone to keep something in your closet that no longer fits that may never fit you again, in the hopes that it might fit you. And I think the point is that yeah, maybe you will—maybe your body will change, and your weight might go down, and you might fit into something in the future. But staring at it in the closet and having it make you feel bad, or as like some sort of punishment, is just kind of rude to yourself.
HG: What form of community care do you believe the body neutrality and size inclusivity community needs at this time?
KS: I think it's about bringing each other up, rather than taking each other down. So maybe that's you following someone on the internet and choosing not to leave a negative comment about them. I get this a lot, like someone will look at my outfit and say, "I don't think this flatters you," or, "your shorts too tight," or, "you should try a one-piece."
These comments—although they may seem well-meaning from the person—I think that they're just a reflection of maybe your regular behavior in your everyday life. Because if you feel comfortable writing that on the internet and being a little bit negative to a woman on the web, then what are you doing in your regular life and to your friends? So I think that it's more about a focus of raising each other up and not talking shit and saying, "Oh, did you see that person gained weight?" or, "this person lost weight." Just stopping the weight conversation, I think would be very helpful as a community.
HG: Are there any products you've been gravitating toward lately for your self-care routine?
KS: One thing I love to do is take our Megababe Le Tush Butt Mask—which is like a facial-grade mask for your butt—and put it on my face, my chest, my arms, my butt, and then it kind of resets my skin. I do that about once a week.
I also meditate every morning, even if it's just for two minutes, because it helps keep my brain focused for the day. And it helps keep me grounded. I love walking my dog in the morning to get coffee. At night, I try to get off my phone around 7:30 p.m. so I have some time offline—but it doesn't always work. I also listen to audiobooks a lot.
HG: How do you think self-care looks different for someone who is trying to build a better understanding of their body?
KS: What would you say to a friend? Would you say, "You look like shit today" to a friend? So don't do it yourself. It's not groundbreaking. But the point is that we don't do most of these things. We are mean to ourselves, we are rude about our friends, we do pit women against women when it comes to body image. but I think it's just something that we have to work on together.