Two body-positive yoga teachers have decided to take a stand against all of the “body shaming ads” that plague the New York City subways.
Jessica Andersen and Ashley Simon tell PEOPLE they were inspired to start their campaign, My Body Does, after seeing an ad for Protein World last summer that featured, “uber-thin, large-breasted women in bikinis with the copy ‘ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?’ ”
“They were insulting but also literally impossible to avoid if you were waiting for a train,” says Andersen.
In response, the pair created a series of stickers with affirmations like “My body is a source of joy” and “I am free to have a body that is unique to me.” Now the stickers are popping up on the exact ads that inspired the campaign.
The affirmations, available for $2.50 for a set of four, have been spotted – and then reposted to the My Body Does Instagram – on breast augmentation and bikini ads.
“The My Body Does stickers are about reclaiming both public physical space and space within cultural conversations about bodies and how they should ‘be,'” says Andersen. “The N.Y.C. subway ads just happen to be one of the most visible manifestations of body shaming so it’s a natural place for people to put the stickers – believe me we would sticker close-minded conversations if it was physically possible.”
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Though My Body Does was already underway when the group Overweight Haters Ltd. started handing out fat-shaming cards on the tube in London last year, Andersen says the scandal only further encouraged them to “keep pushing our core message and make sure the stickers are available to anyone and everyone who would have use for them.”
Andersen and Simon are also planning to expand their message with My Body Does t-shirts and totes just in time for summer.
As for the ultimate goal of their efforts, “we hope our stickers inspire people to investigate some of the feelings they have, and the choices they make, and to discover what’s authentically them,” says Andersen. “And if at the end of the day that’s still plastic surgery, then that’s okay. Because it won’t be about fear and manipulation, it will be about individual, conscious choice.”