Featured Super Heroine: Taylor Szasz

Each month we choose a Super Heroines, Etc. member to feature on our blog. This month we chose Taylor Szasz, a long time SHE member, recent presenter at our SHE Stories: Body Positivity event, and all-around super heroine.

15672843_10158372816280725_6527745077664170164_nTell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a Super Heroine.

I moved to St. Louis after college and didn’t know anyone or have any family here! I knew I needed to make some friends so I wouldn’t sit in my house all alone, so I googled “how to make friends in a new city.” Meetup.com came up, and I started looking for feminist/girl power/nerdy groups, and what else showed up than Super Heroines, Etc? I liked how polished it was, and went through the old events and saw a lot of things I would have liked to go to! So I joined the group and went to what I think was the first Nerdy Networking the next day. It was the one about leveling up your personal life and achieving your goals I believe.

You have been a Super Heroine for a few years now and attended quite a few events. Which one has been your favorite and why?

It’s really hard to say which event was my favorite because I’ve gone to so many that were so vastly different! It may be a toss-up between geocaching, Nerdy Networking, and SHE Speaks because I got such precious memories out of each one! I now regularly geocache, which has helped me get more exercise and fresh air. Nerdy Networking has stayed part of my work like in making plans for achievable goals. I also met people there that I am still in touch with, and count as very close friends, which was my whole goal in joining! And finally, I really liked being a part of SHE Speaks. It was a really emotional, empowering event. I was so scared to be up in front of people, yet I felt so supported!

cleft lip painting

Painting of a cleft lip from Taylor’s friend.

This month’s theme is Body Positivity and you participated in one of our related events where you shared a story. Could you tell us what story you shared?

I shared a prose piece on what it was like undergoing extensive craniofacial reconstructive surgery (if you wanted, I would be happy to send you the file). I was born with a birth defect called unilateral cleft lip and palate. So my face wasn’t formed properly in the womb, and left me with a lot of problems, including hearing, speech, orthodontic, and obviously cosmetic issues. I was teased pretty mercilessly about my looks, which fed into some pretty self destructive behavior. Once I hit my own personal rock bottom, however, I began to see my inherent worth and made the scarring and experiences part of my personal identity!

16683935_1109218379206354_6187375163392674377_nWhat inspired you to participate in the storytelling event?

As shy as I can be, I actually love getting up on stage and performing. One of my friends is a pretty prolific author, and she invited me to the event. She is always encouraging me to write, because she feels like I have some interesting life experiences to share (an opinion I humbly agree with!). I also knew that I was going to be speaking in a judgment free zone (SHE and Shameless Grounds? Talk about a safe space), so that helped me make the decision to get up and share with everyone!

Beyond the story you shared, what are some other areas of your life where you practice body positivity?

Well, I shared earlier that I went through some pretty self destructive behavior. Part of that was my loooong struggle with an eating disorder. So getting over that and my issues with my face was quite the hurdle! Luckily for me, treatment addressed both issues. 🙂 Now I try really hard to be forgiving to myself. I meditate and take up a Buddhist practice at the Missouri Zen Center, and I feel like that mindfulness, self awareness, and instruction to let go of attachments (like my attachment to having a “normal” face or being at a certain weight) has really helped me find peace in my body and live a happier life.

What advice would you give to someone who maybe isn’t always practicing self-love?

I would tell them that the pressure to love your body can be almost as intimidating as the pressure to hate it! You need to look at what areas in your life give you the most pain, and work at accepting them. You may not be able to love that imperfection quite yet, but accepting that it makes you no less of a person is a crucial first step. Taking it in baby steps also makes “radical self acceptance” less of a daunting feat. I would also tell them that there are communities waiting around to do all the loving for you! Without a good support network, it is very difficult to take care of yourself.

Author: Carolyn Noe

Carolyn is the Founder & Executive Director of Super Heroines, Etc. She is a recent transplant to Cincinnati and lives with her husband and her dog. She regularly nerds out about Parks & Rec, Firefly, and Pride & Prejudice.

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