Last Wednesday, February 10, Mary Lambert visited Rutgers for a Body Positivity Week event co-sponsored by RUPA and the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities. Before I tell you how absolutely incredible the event was, let me address the title of this post.
This post has been named for my favorite line from my favorite body positive poem that Lambert read on Wednesday. The poem was written in response to Oprah Magazine’s Creative Director’s comment that women should wear crop tops “if (and only if) you have a flat stomach.” You can read Lambert’s full poem on her blog here. But in the meantime, following the positivity of Wednesday, I have decided to name this post for a moment of a poem that made me feel happy, confident, and worthy.
For anyone who may have forgotten the incredible queer representation in Mary Lambert’s “She Keeps Me Warm” video, here’s a little reminder!
I’d also like to address the hateful, body shaming comments made on the event’s Facebook page, since the comments were addressed by Lambert herself on the night of the event. If you read the comments and felt hurt by them, or perhaps if you contributed to that negativity yourself, I want you to know that Lambert’s very first poem was a response to the Facebook commenters — and it was absolutely beautiful. Many people might be nervous to take the stage at a school that had shown them so much hate, but I’m so glad Lambert addressed the commenters with her art and then moved forward with her performance.
The most powerful point that Lambert made on the topic of Body Positivity, to me, was her point that you should acknowledge what feels good when figuring out what your body needs. If your body feels gross after eating fast food, don’t eat it. But if ice cream makes you happy, go for it! If your body needs a sluggish day in bed, great, but if a spin class would make you feel good, be sure to do that too. Listen to your body — it knows what you need.
Lambert also discussed allowing yourself to feel emotions rather than becoming numb to them. Her performances combine music and poetry, and she discusses her life experiences in a vulnerable way in order to make a connection with the audience. Sometimes, she says, she has been told that her writing is a catalyst for someone to begin dealing with their emotions. But she says that if you find that strength within yourself, that it’s all you and you should be proud. Lambert’s openness in her art was a refreshing change of pace, and the event staff definitely created a safe space, which should be commended.
Although Lambert tackles difficult topics in her writing, including body shaming and past sexual trauma, Lambert does an excellent job of also including positive messages and hilarious stories. For example, Lambert told us that she became emotional during the final rehearsal for the 2014 Grammy performance of “Same Love” because the 33 same-sex couples to be married during the performance came out during the rehearsal, and Madonna wiped away Lambert’s tears. In response to being touched by Madonna, Lambert says, “That was the best sex I ever had!”
Thank you to everyone who made this event the wonderful evening that it was. Thanks to Verbal Mayhem for their opening poems, which set the mood for the event, and to Michael Anderson, the host for the evening! I am grateful to have had this opportunity at Rutgers.