If you ask anyone who knows me to rattle off a list of my heroes, female comedians would topple from their mouths like falling dominoes: Tina, Amy, Mindy, Lena, and you. Yes, I am completely inspired by strong, powerful and creative women like Gloria Steinem and Sylvia Plath, but I am a total comedy nerd, and waves of laughter caused by women in comedy have carried me through my most difficult currents.
Lately, I’ve tried to refrain from writing about the body positive movement in an effort to put my past behind me, though this is hypocritical of me to say seeing as much of what I have published is inspired by my 7-year battle with anorexia and bulimia. However, I am so significantly moved by the bravery you showed in posing nearly nude for your Pirelli calendar photo that I couldn’t fight the inspiration to write you.
The irony is, the photo should not be awe inducing. A woman posing in heels and some sheer underwear for a widely known artistic outlet should not be making headlines, especially when it’s been done by so many women before her. But the reality is that we live in a world tainted with unrealistic beauty standards, unfair judgments and cruel adjectives to describe men and women who don’t resemble the original Barbie and Ken.
So, let me be clear, it is not this photo of you that inspires me. What inspires me and what you motivate me to achieve is the bravery to unapologetically be yourself, your ability to be both humble and confident, and the embodiment of fearless femininity. You are encouraging women like the one I once was: women who hide behind baggy clothing and avoid mirrors. Women who quiet their robust laughter because they don’t want to be noticed. Thank you for teaching me how to want to be noticed.
Another truth is that beyond the courage to confidently own your body, you are showing women that it’s okay to own their sexuality. Trainwreck and Inside Amy Schumer showcase your ability to use comedy to convey just how ridiculous the double standard is on women who want to embrace their human nature to “catch a dick” (your words, not mine!) compared to men. By changing the conversation around sex, you have taught me that I am not any less of a woman for admitting I enjoy it.
So thanks, Amy, for showing the world that sexy isn’t based on size. Thank you for teaching women to be okay with who they are and to go after what they want. Thanks for showing me that what matters is the obnoxious hyperventilation of my laugh and not the whiteness of the teeth I flash. What matters is the sincerity in my goals and not the anticipation of what I’ll receive in return. What matters is the beauty of my mind and the confidence in my creativity and my intelligence. Thank you for empowering me to channel my inner badass, and thank you for keeping me motivated throughout my recovery. Most of all, thank you for making me laugh until I have abs! (J.K. who really wants abs anyway?)
I will literally cancel all my plans if you ever want to meet up for drinks!
Lots of love and a shit ton of laughs,
Leila J. Milgrim