Marinara Stardust

Name: Marinara Stardust
Age: 32
City: NYC
Occupation: Burlesque Dancer 

Please describe how you see your body in general when you look in the mirror. 

Lumpy and doughy I guess..... Stomach too fat. I've always had extra skin under my arms (referred to as "fat armpit girl" in high school). I generally like my face and my calves because they usually look the same and toned . . . No matter what I do my stomach will never be flat or muscular.  My thighs are always fatty and too large. I don't think I have good or bad days.... generally feels the same all the time. 

What do you consider beauty to mean? What is beautiful to you?

Hmmmmm ... confidence. But I'm not sure how people get to that level where it is radiated. And being thin. This has always equaled beauty to me. 

I always find this a tricky thing because we are lead to l believe if we are beautiful on the inside it will show on the outside.  If we are overweight then there's something non-beautiful on the inside we have to work on (supposedly). I'm not sure I fully agree or disagree with this. 

What does a healthy body image mean to you and what are your body image goals?

Not sure. I thought I had pretty good body image but now I'm reading my candid responses I'm not sure.... I do know I was sick of feeling frustrated with my size and shape so I started burlesque 5-6 years ago. Many parts of that community helped me learn to be more comfortable with my body and to see many different types of bodies as beautiful. Unfortunately one of the reasons I left that community is because many producers and performers only cast people that fall into a specific type (generally light-skinned and thin) which unfortunately perpetuates negative body images in most.  

Can you talk about a time in your life where you felt body confident?

Sadly the time I felt I l LOOKED best was when I was very ill about 12-14 years ago and I lost a ton of weight because I couldn't eat. My body felt terrible. I was medically ill. But I've never been thinner or gotten so many compliments on how I looked. 

Have you had issues or challenges with clothing in regard to body image?

I generally can't wear anything low-waisted because of "muffin-topping" which someone had to tell me about. I generally wear high-waisted pants, loose tops, or flowy dresses because I gain most of my weight on my stomach. I guess most of my style is based around my discomfort with my stomach.

Does your body image affect how you eat?

Not really actually..... I generally eat well for 2/3 meals a day and try to treat myself the other meal.  I've never been into dieting and I'm happy about that. I don't own a scale. Even though I look at all this as reasonable management of my meals I still wish I ate better things for myself more often. I also just feel so frustrated as a human but a woman particularly. I feel I do more good things for my body every year but I continue to gain weight. If anything, growing up my mother would constantly tell my sisters and I we were fat which caused me to eat more in front of her as sort of a "f**k you."  It did, however, encourage a severe eating disorder (food restriction and purging) in my youngest sister. 

When do you feel best?

When I try on something new and it fits and look nice. Also after yoga. 

How has your body image changed over time?

Well, I've moved farther away from my mother so it has improved!  I've become aware that a lot of the fixed ideas I had about my body and how bodies look in general aren't true! There is a sea of different shapes and sizes and my self-image has gotten better knowing that we cannot and do not all look the same. 

Who or what do you feel influences your body image most? 

How I feel physically and not changing a dress/pant size.

Do you feel pressure around body image?

Yes - pretty much everything I said about being thin is reflected in all forms of media. Fat = lazy and unhealthy in our society. 

What are your thoughts on the media/advertising/social media and how they affect body image?

I wish we had more diverse body images present in the media for ourselves and our youth but our society will have to change before that's even an option. 

How do you feel about altering appearance through cosmetic surgery and applications like Photoshop?

I think if it makes you comfortable - do it!  I think doctors should mandate counseling/therapy, however, to people who seem to be getting surgery after surgery and possibly putting themselves in medical danger. 

Do you have any advice/tips/suggestions for other women who would like to improve their body image?

Just do something for you.  Whatever it is. Don't beat yourself up and remember to take care of yourself. Remove people that make you feel bad about yourself from your life including partners, friends, and even family.