ROCKFORD — A self-love movement started by a Rockford woman who once weighed more than 500 pounds and was near death is growing.
The Rock Your Body Rockford movement was inspired by Tina Jacobs, who just a decade ago tipped the scale at 540 pounds. She struggled to breathe and walk, and in 2009 decided to made a drastic and risky, yet life-saving change. Today, she’s inspiring people around the world with the help of eight local women who have gone through similar challenges.
“Our objective is to help lift women, men, young girls and boys up to a point where they feel the love and acceptance of others but also to encourage them to keep their self confidence up in times of hardship,” she said.
April 22, the the group will host the BareThatBody photo shoot at the downtown YMCA. Participants will be in beachwear, whatever they feel comfortable with. Jacobs said it is an opportunity for those who may be uncomfortable with their bodies to interact and overcome common hardships.
“It will be in a group of people of all different sizes and shapes standing with us in a courageous stance against what people think,” she said.”We may not be comfortable, but we will be united. Peace comes from standing together. I think comfortable comes in time.”
The movement started getting media attention after one of its founders, 97 ZOK’s Mandy James, went public with her struggle with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a type of anxiety that centers on perceived defects in one’s appearance. James said her public persona both inspires others and challenges her to continue her own fight.
“It’s all about being vulnerable,” James said. “I think there’s a huge misconception that people in the public eye have it all together but when you bare your true-inner being and allow people to see that you have flaws just like they do. it brings about this enormous sense of togetherness. It’s a cliché statement, but when you connect with the women who make up Rock Your Body Rockford, you will finally start to realize that you really aren’t alone.
“We want you to try to remember this: We are all the same. Every single one of us wants that same thing and that’s to be loved. With this movement, we want to inspire women to be strong, compassionate, courageous and above all, to feel loved. And I believe we’re off to a very good start.”
Rock Your Body Rockford kicked off last fall with a series of Facebook videos by filmmaker Gregory Yokley. Each chronicles an individual story, including some of Jacobs’ journey and that of 9-year-old Malaysia Collins, who was bullied because of her weight.
Photos from the event will be shared on the Rock Your Body Rockford Facebook page. R.