Writing the Body
This self-paced online writing course helps you claim your body's story—and create a beautiful piece of writing in the process.
"After the first class I felt like I’d gotten my money’s worth. Every subsequent class was such a beautiful and useful gift. They held such an important and unique space to explore and learn and write, and I wish everyone could experience it."
"It has been the best gift I have ever given myself." —Donna T.
Think about your body.
What are the first 3 words that come to mind?
Every time you describe, judge, or talk about your body, you tell a little story.
In some of those stories, you’re strong. In others, your body is a limitation. So often, the most negative words you carry about your body come from other people—from the thoughtless high school boys, to your well-meaning mother, to every glossy ad that has ever promised that you’d be happier if you were rounder here or tighter there.
How do you reclaim your body from the voices that say what your body is allowed to be in the world?
You’ve heard all the phrases…
- Body positivity
- Body acceptance
- Positive body image
These ideas feel aspirational. Who wouldn’t want to feel positive about their body?
But if you’re like many, you experience a disconnect—a gap between how you ought to feel about your body, and how you actually feel. Body positivity is a step in the right direction, but it can mean you're still using someone else's words to define your body.
The ideas of body positivity or body acceptance can't be the final destination of getting to know and love your body.
They’re too generic and abstract, and so they fall short.
They don’t communicate the experience of your individual life, in your individual body.
Through a series of guided writing exercises, this course helps you examine any issue connected to your body (weight, sleep, illness, exercise, pain, gender, aging, sexuality, addiction, etc). Together, we chip away at the words other people have given you about your body, so you can discover something much more personal.
You will feel your feet on the earth so that the body positivity you feel is grounded in your lived experience, and expressed in your very own words. As you write with us, you will encounter the beautiful, the difficult, and most of all, the real.
This course does not give you the right story, words, or mantra. Instead, it helps you to step back and examine your own story and words for yourself. This course guides you in claiming the story of your body through writing, no matter what that body is.
We've personally grappled with our relationship to our bodies.
And we’ve found that writing turns the struggle into a dance.
I’m Ashmae Hoiland and for most of my life, in large part because of religious fear, I consciously separated myself from my body. I was afraid of what it was capable of feeling and nervous about fully using it in all aspects of my life. When I was about twenty, I had a boyfriend who was a yoga instructor, and whether I liked it or not, I did a lot of yoga. I remember my body and spirit syncing up for the first time. Years later, being pregnant with and birthing three children brought my body into full view for a second time. I had complicated pregnancies with surgeries while pregnant and three c-sections. A postpartum body, coupled with postpartum anxiety and depression made it impossible to ignore my body. I recognized my children also needed and loved the home of my body and I wanted to feel the same. I began writing, drawing and using my body as a form of understanding to draw from. I recognized that I was certainly not alone in this work and pulled from the stories of other people to better work within my own. In late 2018 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and while I have been lucky in being very healthy thus far, the diagnosis asked me to again be curious about my body and its space in the world I inhabit. I again went to the thing that has always served me best when I don't know what to do, I wrote and wrote and wrote. I don't plan on stopping writing about the body anytime soon because it is ever-changing.
I’m Kathy West and the floor of my life shifted under me when I finally, honestly articulated to myself that I’d been living with disordered eating for most of my life. Coming to those words took time because my own physical experience did not match my mental picture of that term. I came to my realization through writing, which is a medium I have always used to explore ideas. Only after I found my own, honest words about the situation could I do anything to change it. I now eat food that nourishes me and I don't eat in secret anymore. I'm still writing my way through the issues that led to my food troubles in the first place, and it's a beautiful, surprising process of discovery. I have also written, published, or performed stories and essays about miscarriage, birth, weight, insomnia, cancer, and chronic illness. I’m humbled and excited to help you write your way through the questions and stories that are yours to tell about your body.
Both of us have done the work of rewriting our stories about our bodies.
Looking back, we both know that this particular course would have been useful to us.
That’s why we created it for you.
"This course was life-changing. I don't consider myself a great writer, but each class session provided opportunities for me to use writing as a powerful tool to learn more about myself and my body. Ashmae and Kathy are masterful writers and facilitators, and offered new perspectives each week in an environment that felt open-hearted. They fostered a safe space to explore my vulnerable thoughts and feelings surrounding this topic. I experienced a major paradigm shift during the time we spent together that allowed me to feel the peace, love and connection I've wanted for so long. I want to gift this course to all of my friends. I think every human needs to take this class. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
What will you get when you purchase
Writing the Body?
Even though body positivity is a by-product of the writing you'll do in this course, it’s honestly not the point.
At the end of 6 lessons, you won’t just click your heels and love your body forever. You will arrive at the end of this course with a clearer, deeper relationship with your body. You will feel more confident in putting your own experience into words. And you will have a greater sense of freedom to live life in the body you’re in.
What’s included in this course:
- Six 90-minute video lessons, pre-recorded and available to you online, wherever you are. Each lesson includes 3 writing exercises that you can do right along with the video. The lessons are designed to inspire further writing, but even if you only write along with the lesson, you'll get so much personal insight from the experience.
- Access to exclusive interview with Lexie Kite, Founder of Beauty Redefined. This hour-long interview felt like a gift to both of us interviewees, and we know it will for you, too. She shares why we would be better served to talk about body image resilience, rather than body positivity—and a few key steps to turn our body image issues into strengths.
- Full course workbook with writing prompts, lesson notes, and course information. This 47-page workbook includes all visualizations, quotes, questions, and writing prompts in the course. When you've finished watching the videos, you can revisit the most powerful exercises again without needing to find them in a recording.
- Additional reading recommendations. We've assembled a list of 47 books, essays, and poems from contemporary writers writing about the body. They are organized by topic, such as pregnancy, weight, aging, illness, and body image.
- Access to our Mine To Tell Facebook writing group. You can join a community of writers who are focused on finding their voice, just like you. In that group, we share writing tips and reading recommendations, and we applaud each other's successes.
What past participants have to say...
I want to thank you for this course. It spoke to me as a trauma survivor, someone who has given birth, and someone who is transitioning--that's a whole range of demographics to appeal to in one class! Thank you for your thoughtfulness.
"The body positivity movement glosses over the need we have to tell the stories of our bodies, not just profess adoration for them. This class filled in that gaping hole. and if I ever feel like I don’t know what to write about, I’ll remember the gift of this class and how it taught me that my body has endless stories."
"Writing the Body has been a transformative class for me, both in improving my writing skills and broadening my perspective on my body and the way my relationship to it has influenced every aspect of my life. I can't think of anyone who would not benefit greatly from taking this course."
The 6 Lessons in Writing the Body
Lesson 1: The Body as Friend and Companion
In subtle, invisible ways, we can live in conflict with our bodies. This lesson helps you reveal to yourself the ways in which your body is functioning as companion and friend. Two visualizations help you connect first to your actual, physical body, and then to the stories that your body is carrying. The writing exercises in this lesson help you tune into stories that you may not have even known your body wants to tell you.
Lesson 2: Re-writing Your Origin Story
All of our bodies have origin stories—and those stories often fetter us or frame our lives in the present. This lesson guides you through a simple process to identify one of your body's origin story. (Past writers in this course have been surprised by what comes up.) We then guide you through what it can look like rewrite that stories, and become a more intentional narrator of your own life.
Lesson 3: Taking Back Your Body's Language
Many of the words attached to our bodies are external descriptors that enable or require judgment: pretty, ugly, thin, fat… This lesson helps you discover language that doesn't serve you (language you didn't even know you were carrying), so that you can shift from external to internal language that is actually your own. The exercises help you find an honest perspective that is both healing and beautiful.
Lesson 4: Hearing the Body's Voice
We tell ourselves so much about our bodies—without actually paying attention to the body itself. This lesson walks you through a process that gives your body both voice and space to speak. Through the exercises, you will notice things you’ve missed, and discover even more beauty in what your body does every day.
Lesson 5: Intergenerational Healing
Your mother, father, grandmother, or grandfather inevitably carried stories about their bodies—and in one form or another, those stories were passed on to you. With an unconventional approach to examining the past, this lesson helps you give voice to what’s been handed down. The visualization and writing exercises in this lesson help you choose which stories you want to carry with you, and which ones you're ready to let go.
Lesson 6: An Apology, a Thank You, and a Way to Move Forward
Gratitude is simultaneously an open and a powerful stance. Our course ends with writing exercises that allow genuine and specific appreciation to rise to the surface. We give you a guide for writing a simple contract with your body, now that you are more in tune with what your body has to say. You finish the course with 6 lessons' worth of insight and 18 writing exercises you can revisit again and again.
How many years have stories about your body played on a loop?
How many more years will they keep going if you don’t do the work of sorting them out?
Some of the words you carry about your body are walls that keep you stuck. Other words are doors waiting to be opened. You can't do anything with those words until you know what they are—and writing can reveal them to you.
If you feel a call to a better relationship with your body, please join us.
We're committed to making this course worth your money and your time.
We know (from past participants in this course) that Writing the Body offers you a profound shift in how you feel and talk about your body. But if you purchase the course and are not satisfied with it, email us within 30 days of your purchase and we will refund you.
Your purchase today includes:
- 6 pre-recorded, body-connecting lessons, 90 minutes each
- Body positivity interview with Lexie Kite, co-founder of Beauty Redefined
- 47-page course workbook (digital, available immediately)
- Readings by topics: contemporary books, essays, and poems about the body
- Access to the private Mine to Tell Facebook group