Here it is! The official photo from our 2013 PROCLAIM NO SHAME event (scroll to the end). We’ve written about the street harassment we experienced during the event, but I want to make clear why we felt the need to recreate this photo (below) in the first place.
“BACKGROUND: The photo above that inspired this event was taken July 31, 1921 at the Tidal Basin bathing beach during a pie eating contest. There were paid decency police officials on site who’s job was to make sure the suit skirts were at an appropriate length. During this time there was actually a U.S. Bikini Law in effect, and it was the job of police to measure swimsuits and arrest anyone who did not follow the guidelines. Talk about body policing! AND IT’S STILL GOING ON! Don’t let anyone tell you your skirt’s too short, curves too curvy, skin too dark, hair too kinky, legs too hairy, or you’re just not beautiful enough. WE DEFINE OUR OWN BEAUTY!” – from our original facebook event page
We originally saw this photo on the Fat Grrrl Activism site, the caption reading: “In 1921, early suffragettes often donned a bathing suit and ate pizza in large groups to annoy men…it was a custom at the time.” While that sounded totally badass and worth doing all on its own, thanks to Tiffanie, our awesome photographer who agreed to help us recreate the photo for modern times, we found out that it was a little more complicated than that (check out the caption – she did her research!).
We at Hollaback! Baltimore wanted to contribute another image to the internet showing all types of bodies in a fun, non-sexualized way. The women, trans, and gender queer folks that showed up, all of different ability, age, size, first language, race, and background, were all encouraged to take pride in the body they have now, to love it as it is, and stop judging it. We were also encouraged to stop judging each other and respect everyone’s own personal journey. The revolution must be internalized. All this from a silly little vintage picture. So take that, internet! A group of femmes and queers comfortable with who they are, dressed for themselves and the blazing hot sun (read: NOT for you), eating pizza in public, and not one gorgeous gut being sucked in.
I’d go so far as to say our gathering was transformative; a necessary reminder to love ourselves, and I’d love nothing more than to do it again next year.