Proud2Bme | Pride Month on Proud: Shelby Rae’s Body-Positive Journey

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Pride Month on Proud: Shelby Rae’s Body-Positive Journey

In honor of Pride Month, Proud2Bme interviewed LGBTQ young people about their experiences with body image and eating disorders.

Shelby Rae is a 20-year-old English major at Simpson College in Indianola. She is also pursuing two minors, one in French and the other in women’s and gender studies. When she is not reading and writing essays for class, she is writing poetry, hanging out with friends, participating in campus events or helping with the campus organization SELF (Strong Excellent Loving Fearless), a body positive group.  

Proud2Bme: How does being LGBTQ affect your body image?

Shelby: Hmm…I guess sexuality and my body image are both pieces of me but they never directly affected each other. For example, I started to experience issues with my body image around my senior year of high school, whereas my sexuality discovery happened the previous year. My body image struggle happened to overlap with my other anxieties, one of which happened to be whether I was mimicking my older sister in being attracted to women or if I was bisexual.

I identify as a bisexual, although I don’t restrict myself to just the binary genders. I am a very open and compassionate person and would not reject a future partner if they were not male or female. That being said, I have taken the last year for self-care and love instead of dating. I have talked to counselors and friends about my anxieties and have found the ability to appreciate and love myself and my body.

Proud2Bme: What do you think can be done to improve body image among young LGBTQ people?

Shelby: A lot of images of various body shapes and sizes have been praised in the media and pop culture. I believe some of these people praised should be members of the LGBTQIAP+ community. For example, singer, lesbian and body positive activist Mary Lambert has used social media and her music to show love for people no matter one’s weight. 

I also believe others members of the LGBTQIAP+ community should continue to share our stories to inspire hope and spark strength for those individuals who need a reminder that they are valuable and worthy of love.

Related: Aaryn Clerk is Fighting LGBTQ Stigma

Proud2Bme: Who are your LGBTQ role models?

Shelby: I have many, so I’ll pick two. The first person I knew to be gay was Ellen DeGeneres. I have always loved her comedy and ability to find a positive outlook in any situation. My darkest days always got a little brighter around 4 o’clock, when I watched her talk show after school. I always felt that if there were a Queer Clubhouse, Ellen would be president. She spreads love and positivity every day. I admire her so much; she is compassionate and kind and one of the most beautiful humans in the world.

Another role model of mine is YouTuber, actor, author and comedian Shane Dawson. I started watching his videos 5 or 6 years ago. The twisted humor and parody videos gave me a break from my reality. However, the last year and a half, his daily vlogs became more personal when he opened up about his depression, eating disorder and BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder).

Last summer he posted a video coming out as bisexual. I remember watching the 15-minute video and crying because a lot of what he was saying fit my reasons for identifying as bisexual. I’ve left numerous comments thanking him for all that he’s shared on the internet. Though many find fault with his crude humor and blunt honesty, I have found more comfort in his videos and posts because of the respect and passion he shares with his audience.

Proud2Bme: Why are you Proud2BYOU?

Shelby: I am proud to be me because I have overcome so many obstacles and hardships and still have a positive outlook and love for life! BE WEIRD. BE YOU.

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

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