There are no “right” bodies and “wrong” bodies: every body deserves respect and love. This is the philosophy of Laura Brioschi, author of the book We are light, published in October 2020. Born in 1989, sunny, beautiful and successful, Laura has felt for years at war with the shapes of her body, and therefore with herself. Then, one day, she decided to start loving herself and thus embarked on a path towards the acceptance of her forms and self-esteem. And from the wounds, as the title suggests, he let the light in. In the book, published by By Agostini, Laura retraces this path, from the insecurities of a child and adolescent who felt wrong to the hard impact with fashion world, from its lowest point to its rebirth, passed through the love of a special man and the discovery of conscious nutrition. Paladin of body positive, Laura Brioschi today is not only an influencer with over half a million followers on Instagram, but also an entrepreneur: she has in fact launched a clothing line for curvy women (“Without the right clothes, they risk not leaving the house and getting depressed,” she explains). Not only. In 2018, together with his partner Paolo, he set up the non-profit association Body Positive Catwalk, which with its flashmobs led hundreds of women and men to undress in the square, to raise awareness against all discrimination: “A year ago we were in the Duomo in Milan, 300 to demonstrate and 2,000 to watch, for the most great in Europe. Unfortunately, now with Covid-19 we are at a standstill, we hope to start over soon because there is a need “.
Let’s start with a big step back. When and how did the non-acceptance of your body begin?
“With a combination of things: glances and nasty glances received from schoolmates and then from older ones when I asked for an encore at the table, seeing me more rounded than the girls in advertising, adult women always on a diet and those on TV very thin … All things that stick in the mind, making you think that the only way to be happy and acceptable is thinness. It didn’t get any better in high school, when appearance mattered so much: the prettiest girls were skinny and I didn’t really get close to them (laughs). So I started doing diets all the time: with the yo-yo effect I will have lost and regained 200 kilos during my life, which is crazy. And it was these diets that made me sick. The idea that everything was a mistake, that I had to deprive myself of food, that I was worth nothing because I had no willpower: mechanisms we all have, because the culture of diet has been part of our society for some time “.
The disease you are talking about is the bulimia.
“Exhausted by a thousand diets, I got sick of bulimia. An eating disorder due to my weakness, of course, but I discovered that there are really many who suffer from it, of all ages. I couldn’t know, because we don’t talk about bulimia: the act of getting vomit is dirty, ugly, you don’t like it, it makes you feel ashamed ».
And in the end bulimia is a dog chasing its own tail. That’s why it’s hard to get out of it, right?
“When you deprive yourself of food like that, your body can’t wait to assimilate it again. As I write in the book, you can’t fool the human body, which has survived who knows how many famines! He protects you, so right after throwing up you get hungry. I suffered from bulimia up to 23-24 years: to solve this problem I spoke to a psychologist, thanks to whom I embarked on a path of conscious nutrition “.
At 20 you had started the activity of a curvy model. Didn’t it help you accept yourself?
«Modeling is a job that does not bring self-esteem, on the contrary it puts a strain on it. There are so many castings and you often get turned down, because you can’t fit everyone. And if you are chosen, you may happen to hear all kinds of comments. In the end, you remain an object that wears clothes to satisfy the “monkey” of the customer on duty. For me the most beautiful thing today is to have the gift of speaking: in addition to being a model, thanks to social media I can also communicate ».
When did your acceptance path start?
“I can tell you the day I hit rock bottom, which is when I woke up on the bathroom floor of a hotel. I realized that I didn’t want it to become a habit and that I had to give myself more love and respect. I would not have allowed anyone to harm me, much less myself. But it wasn’t that everything went well from there: only after another crash diet did I really say enough. It was 2013: as I told you, the mindful eating».
What is it about?
«It is an approach to food based on awareness and attention to the here and now. It means reconnecting with body and mind. Mindful eating is eating while savoring what you are eating, which is not trivial. It is to remove the labels: soup is considered a food for the sick, but it is not. It is listening to our body to know what it wants or needs ».
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Among the various factors that have contributed to your rebirth is a healthier approach to fitness. What do you mean?
“Although lazy, I have always played sports. What has changed is precisely the approach. I no longer do sports to lose weight, as a punishment because I ate pasta and I have to consume a lot of calories. But only with the aim of feeling good, to enjoy the pleasure that movement gives me. On Instagram I created a page dedicated to fitness where I try to train twice a week with my “ciapine”, the girls who follow me. They are often a bit crazy work outs. For example, instead of doing normal jumping jacks, I do hops as if I were at a concert. Losing weight is a consequence, not the aim ».
In a process of acceptance I think it is important to have a person by your side. Your partner, Paolo, at what moment of your life did he arrive?
“Having a partner isn’t necessarily a pro, because he doesn’t necessarily understand you 100%, when not even you always do. Paolo arrived at a time when I had already decided to love me and I consider myself very lucky because he is a person, indeed a soul, willing to understand others, not to be superficial. Of course, there were things he didn’t understand right away, like my relationship with food, but little by little he succeeded. There was no lack of up and down moments caused by my physicality: he had always been with very athletic women and was amazed by the attraction for a curvy woman like me. There has also been a path of growth on his part ».
Your partner is definitely “physical”. Does your couple receive criticism on social media?
«Yes, there are people who don’t understand how I can be together with an athletic person, as if this were a wrong to body positive? It makes me laugh. Then they criticize Paolo because he supports the body positive, a cause in which according to many only fat people, with some disabilities or with something wrong should participate. This is a strong mental closure, it is body shaming. Focused on respect for one’s body and on removing prejudices, body positive is for everyone, because it speaks to everyone ».
Do you receive insults for your physical appearance?
“I can get ten insults, but when I get a message of thanks for what I do, everything else is canceled. I am very lucky because in my community I have no hater, problems arise when I am reposted by pages that are not really “pro curvy”, like Trash Italiano. And then open heaven there: “You must die”, “You should not have children”, “Swine of shit”. You report and go? what do I have to do? The disarming thing is that there are so many people who think these things and have the courage to write them! “
But aren’t things improving a bit from this point of view?
“My physicality is no longer seen as something huge, as it was before. It is as if it has become more acceptable. But I’m not a girl who is in high school or middle school, I don’t know how the situation is now for very young girls, perhaps worsened by the use of social networks “.
On your Instagram page you have “quoted” the cover of Vanity Fair with Vanessa Incontrada.
«A cover that created a media sensation, therefore very important. However, many girls criticized her because they did not feel represented by Vanessa Incontrada, as she was not fat enough, others said she was photoshopped because cellulite was not visible. Absurdity on the part of insecure people, who do not understand that one body cannot represent all of them! However, I hope that soon our body will no longer be something to talk about ».
Does body shaming also affect men?
“Yes, fear of fat has no sex. Women are more affected by body shaming because they are more related to physical appearance: the powerful man with the belly does not have a bad effect, indeed it is almost more reassuring. If the woman is not in shape, however, she is to be criticized. But, yes, even men can be victims of body shaming ».
Beyond the insults, what can be the effects of fatophobia?
«Many people are not chosen for a job because they are too“ bulky ”, therefore ugly. This is not good. We must give a voice to obese people who are discriminated against. And this does not mean praising obesity. Should men and women with above average fat percentages be rejected by society? We begin to treat the obese as human beings: only in this way can they put obesity behind them, if they want. Which in itself is not even a disease, certainly no more than being underweight ».
What are the limits of the positive body? Isn’t there a risk of diminishing the risks of obesity?
“Acceptance doesn’t mean giving in to things. If you don’t accept yourself, you can’t improve your life. There must therefore be no limit to acceptance: it is essential to welcome ourselves, because only in this way can we find our balance ».