Jasmine Grimes, 24, is a body-positive blogger based in San Francisco who began posting underwear selfies in January 2017. Here, she explains the significance of baring her body and how she responds to negative commenters on the Internet.
Right before I went to college back in 2013, I kept seeing all of these cool, hipster-ish style photos on Tumblr. I couldn't help but notice they only featured straight-size models.
Around the same time, I'd begun to notice that most companies that used plus-size models were only using women who looked no larger than a size 12 or 14 with flat stomachs and wide hips. While there's nothing wrong with their bodies, some women, like me, happen to carry a lot of weight in their bellies. Seeing campaign after campaign featuring models with bodies that looked nothing like mine didn't exactly boost my self-esteem.
I'd always been interested in photography and my mom had just bought me my first DSLR camera for my birthday. So in 2013, I decided to start taking photos like the ones I saw online, but featuring people of my size — namely, me.
Even though I used to shy away from my reflection, posting about 250 photos of myself in the past year has helped me become increasingly comfortable with my body. Just looking at the photos, which showcase how brave I was in the moments when the camera was flashing, makes me smile. See, I used to let the beauty standards set by airbrushed images affect me, but I've come around to the idea that my body is beautiful just the way it is — that I don't have to conform to anyone else's expectations. It's why I typically just block commenters who leave nasty comments or accuse me of being unhealthy because of my size, and move on.
I don't believe in the whole, "new year, new me," thing, but back in January, I told myself I'd no longer let fear get in my way. I was happy with the way I looked, so I decided to take the first photos of myself in my underwear in my bedroom, where I'd set up a makeshift photo studio with a ring light and a tripod.
I was a little nervous to post this first one, but only because I wanted people to understand the message without sexualising the photos. (I'd already seen and deleted quite a few sexually charged comments from my posts.) The reason why I put myself out there in my underwear is because I know there are so many women (and men) who grow up self-harming, starving themselves, and contemplating suicide because unattainable beauty standards lead them to think they're ugly. I want to show other women that bodies like mine are OK the way they are.
It's why, since January, I've shot several series of underwear selfies and try to post at least one every other week.
A few weeks ago, though, I saw an Instagram caption arguing that the only thing that matters is confidence you exercise offline in the real world. I felt it undermined the fact that posting underwear selfies takes courage that promotes personal growth IRL. I thought it also suggested that the only reason women post underwear selfies is for attention, specifically from men. As someone who has not just loved photography all my life, but has used the medium to foster confidence and self-acceptance, I know how much a single image can mean. And I was sick of people suggesting otherwise.
So, two days later, I decided to challenge these misconceptions by posting a photo of myself wearing nothing but my favorite bra and underwear, with a caption that speaks about the importance of underwear selfies.
As usual, it was nerve-racking — I stepped away from my phone for a while before checking to see the response. Most of the time, I just hope that my photos resonate with at least one person. In response to the one above, I got a message from a woman who said my account inspired her to spread the message of body positivity on her own Instagram account. That meant the world to me.
Of course I know it will take more than one person posting a couple of underwear selfies to normalize plus-size bodies. And although I'm planning on publishing more, people need to see all different shapes, types, and skin tones to stop hating and hiding themselves.
While I'm not saying you have to pose in your underwear to be body-positive, you've got to admit that photos can change people's perceptions, particularly before you judge my approach.