It’s time we have the talk — the Body Talk.  

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Katie Sturino
Credit: Courtesy

If you could take back all of the time you've spent criticizing your body, what would you do with it? For women, insecurities surrounding body shaming are normalized. And in a society saturated with filtered content and unattainable standards, it's almost easier to criticize ourselves rather than the system. Keyword: Almost.

Katie Sturino, founder of personal care brand Megababe Beauty, has always been vocal about the importance of body inclusivity in fashion and beauty. She's been praised for developing products that tackle unspoken beauty concerns, like thigh chaffing and butt acne, while using her social platforms to call on brands to create sizes to fit all body types. Her new book, Body Talk: How to Embrace Your Body and Start Living Your Best Life, which debuted on May 25th, confronts this conversation head-on with Sturino's casual tone that will make you feel like you're getting advice from a long-time friend.

Rather than solely discussing her personal body journey, she prompts readers to take a step back and self-reflect through journal entries, sketch prompts, and mad libs. The goal here is not to sing the same body positivity song you've heard before, but to encourage full-blown acceptance.

After reading her book, I had the chance to delve deeper into the subject with Sturino. I told her that it was almost like she had secretly heard all of my most private insecurities and had me face them in writing (in the best way possible). The pages hold honest and open stories that every woman can not only relate to but, more importantly, learn from. A quick warning: Don't be surprised if after just one chapter you are filled with both laughter and tears.

Below, Sturino talks all things Body Talk, where beauty should fit into the body acceptance conversation, and the rituals that keep her feeling confident.

What inspired you to write Body Talk?

I really wanted to take all of the things that I have been doing on the internet for the past six years and translate them into something tangible that you could take offline. When you are scrolling through the internet it is really easy to take like a little hit of inspiration and be like oh okay great. There is something [different] about actually doing the homework and reflecting.

When you were writing this book, who did you have in mind?

The short answer is, I wrote this book for women. I think that every woman has an issue with their body and not in a small way. It's for women who are in their 70s or 80s who are still going on diets and talking about dieting, losing 10 pounds, and can't believe they don't fit into something. It's for moms who are noticing that their kids are starting to pick up on what they are saying to themselves.

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Your chapters include various "homework assignments." Why was this important for you to include?

I really did not want this to be just my story coming at you. I want it to be interactive, thought-provoking, and I want it to work. You can be inspired by someone's story, but I think that there is a certain amount of work that you need to do to help enhance your own narrative. The work certainly doesn't start and stop with Body Talk, but its hopefully a jumping off point for people.

Many of the prompts ask the questions that many women put off. Completing them was like an emotional release for me. Was there a healing or emotional aspect to writing this book?

It was highly personal. Digging up some of the childhood stuff was definitely a release because I mean, those are really embarrassing stories. To face them again as an adult and recognize that they still have power is like oh man, I thought I would be over it. But no, I had to let it go. When I was reading the audio book, I had to go stop the production and go cry in the parking lot because it was really raw and emotional.

I feel like the book is coming out at a perfect time.

It's interesting because everyone is coming off of this very shocking time in our life and so much of the focus is on the changes that some of our bodies have made in the pandemic. Whether you are weak from not working out or you have gained weight from being in your house, whatever it is. People have a choice to make right now with your body. You can be at peace and grateful for surviving a pandemic, or you can be at war with it. I don't think [the latter] is the right choice.

Katie Sturino
Credit: Courtesy

You talk about how we are often body shamed by the people in our close circles, even our moms. How big of a role do you think generational beauty standards and diet culture play in society today?

A big one! This feeling about women's bodies in general has been passed down from generation to generation because everything comes with a warning. Like, if you are too big you are not going to find happiness. Women pass down their pain and you don't really even know that you are doing it. You watch the way that mothers interact with their daughters or the way that like even sisters interact. It's quite mean.

In the book you promote the mantra, "You are inherently worthy of love". What are some ways that you like to practice self-love?

Every morning I meditate and walk my dog to get my coffee. My mornings to myself are a big part of my self-care. I shut it all down workwise around 7 and I get back to it by 9. I think it is hard to tell someone that they deserve love and good treatment from the world. It's hard for people to accept that.

The book asks us to remember the first time we felt like our body wasn't right. On the contrary, when have you felt the most confident?

The Man Repeller article [in 2016] was the first time that I was like hold on, how did I feel like this for so long?  Seeing comments from other women who said that they looked like me. I just couldn't believe it because I had been made to feel like I had such a uniquely large body and it wasn't the way that it was supposed to be, which was crazy. Realizing other women weren't all one size and I was just the wrong size was just like everything.

Everyone has bad days. Is there a beauty ritual that helps you shift back into that confident mindset?

Totally! Step one for me is if my skin is glowing. One thing I do is a head-to-tush Le Tush [Megababe Clarifying Butt mask]. The acids reset my skin and make it glow. That makes me feel really confident. From that point, I am fine to just exist. That is my superpower.

Body Talk focuses a lot on fashion, but why do you think that this is such an important conversation to have in the beauty space as well?

The beauty industry is ahead of fashion with inclusivity in their imagery. There are more plus size women cast in beauty campaigns than in fashion campaigns. When it comes to products, it's important to look at how we make, sell and market [to consumers]. Little ole me had to find a factory to make a thigh chafe stick because no one in the beauty industry was making that. However, there are tons of cellulite creams. So, nothing to make you [feel] comfortable but definitely something to sell you on how you should feel bad about the cellulite on your leg.

Where do you think beauty should fit into our body talk?

I don't want to police anything anyone is doing. I am pro do whatever you want to do with your body, but the root of everything has to be, am I happy with myself? Do I do this stuff as a shield because I don't feel good about myself or think it will solve some problem? Or do I do this because this is the version of myself that feels playful, fun, and confident. There is a line. Beauty should just be fun. If you are not good to yourself it can be detrimental.