Announcing The Anti-Diet Project Essay Contest!

Photographed by Lauren Perlstein
About a year ago, I decided to wear a bikini for the first time in my life — and do it on the Internet. The idea came to me out of nowhere, like inspiration often does. But, this time, it didn't feel like inspiration. It felt like a dare. 

As it turned out, putting on that swimsuit was a dare worth taking. I expected meanness and misunderstanding — and some of that, I got. But, in my heart, I knew there would be even more support. Strangers emailed their kind words, commenters shared their own fears, and people I hadn't seen since elementary school reached out to say they were proud of me. Suddenly, I was proud of me. All because I put on a bathing suit! That's what happens when you expose yourself in a real, raw, un-retouched way. It was a great risk, for sure. And, what a great reward.

Since then, I've tried to take every dare I can find. My battle with body image is far from over, and there is so much fear and shame I need to shed light on. So, every time I have an idea (like, I'll show off my stomach! or I'll let someone photograph me on the StairMaster!), I've got to take the dare. On the other side of that dare is a gift. 

Now, I want to give that gift to you. 

Introducing The Anti-Diet Project's first essay contest. I'm opening the floor to those who want to share their own stories. The task: shed light on your shame

Shame is one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox — if you embrace it. If you let shame take hold of you, then it becomes the bogeyman, backing you further into that dark corner where no one can see you. But, if you're willing to turn on the light and show the whole world what it is you're so ashamed of, then you'll see just how feeble that bogeyman is — and how much stronger you are. Embracing shame is how you free yourself from it. 

Everyone's shame takes a different shape, so we each embrace it differently (I put mine in a bikini). But, the more I talk about it, the more I hear from others — and, we're all telling the same story. That's why I want to share your story, too. What are you embarrassed by? What part don't you want us to see? What are the scariest thoughts that come to mind when you look at yourself in the mirror? And, how did those thoughts get in there? 

You don't have to wear a bikini. This isn't a swimsuit competition; just use your words. But, I urge you to put on the metaphorical bikini. Boldness is the key here. These essays will be judged by creativity and style, but mostly by boldness. You've got to share your truth with radical honesty and a willingness to risk embarrassment. The winner will be published here on The Anti-Diet Project. 

Shed light on your shame. I double-dog-dare you. 

Deadline: 5/18/15
Entry Length: 800-1,000 words
Entry Format: PDF document
Submission Requirements: Entries must be emailed to antidietessaycontest@refinery29.com  
Judging Parameters:
Eligible entries received during the Entry Period, and which comply with the Official Rules, will be judged by Kelsey Miller, in her sole discretion, and one (1) potential winner with the highest score will be selected based on the following criteria: a) quality of writing (25%), b) creativity and style (25%) and, c) adherence to the creative prompt ("shed light on your shame") (50%).


NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States (excluding Rhode Island), 18 years or older and over the age of majority in jurisdiction of residence at time of entry. Ends 5/18/15 at 11:59 pm E.T. For Official Rules, click here [or go to www.refinery29.com/sweeps/anti-diet-essay-contest-rules/terms]. Void where prohibited.    
Advertisement