'We should all be able to celebrate and love ourselves without fear of criticism from others, whatever shape or size we are.'
News flash: Words have power. This is something Jojo Oldham knows all too well.
Whether you're a soap star hearing lewd comments made by a politician 10 years ago or the average woman getting catcalled on her way home from work, what other people have to say about your body leave a lasting impression.
Over Oldham's 31 years of existence, she's received countless comments about her body — both good and bad.
After years of letting these words affect how she sees herself, however, Oldham was finally ready to release them and embrace herself.
She took all the comments she's heard about her body over the years and painted them on a dress. Posing for pictures, with a smile on her face, she took the power those words had over her and refused to let them dictate her self-worth any longer.
"The love I have for my body these days is something I've had to learn. And it requires constant maintenance," Oldham wrote on her website.
Like so many of us, Oldham says she's been in a love-hate relationship with her body for as long as she can remember. There are days when she's thrilled with how she looks, and then there are days when she wants to delete every unflattering photo ever taken of her. The comments she would receive fanned the flame of her own insecurities.
"I had 31 years-worth of other people’s comments about my body swirling around my head and popping into it on a daily basis, and I wanted to do something positive with them," Oldham explained over email.
The dress is a badge of honor, symbolic of the fact that, while Oldham may have been called these things, she is not defined by them.
"The comments that made the final cut have all stuck with me for different reasons," Oldham wrote. "Some because they’re really weird, some because they’re really lovely, some because they’re funny, and some because they’re particularly nasty and they really crushed me at the time."
"Once I learned how to be happy with myself as I am, the negative things that other people said about my body just stopped mattering to me," Oldham explained.
Comments can do serious damage to even the strongest, most self-confident people. Oldham hopes her dress will help curtail some of that damage.
"We should all be able to celebrate and love ourselves without fear of criticism from others, whatever shape or size we are," she wrote on her website.
She hopes the work will inspire women to remember they are not the sum of the comments made about their bodies; they are so much more.