I am so excited to present today’s interview with Amy Harman of Becoming a Better Woman.
Amy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has experience treating individuals, couples, and families for issues ranging from teenage substance abuse, depression, anxiety, abuse and trauma, to (the all-too familiar topic of) eating disorders. As a psychology-grad (and enthusiast) who also blogs about female self-improvement and self-understanding, I have an enormous amount of respect for Amy’s work.
Becoming a Better Woman has inspired a lot of posts on MsMorphosis, and I am constantly inspired by her insightful, loving, informative approach to dealing with issues that impact modern women. From her Stories of Strength series, to her powerful posts on the objectification and sexualization of women in society and the media, to dealing with relationship and body issues, Becoming a Better Woman is a phenomenal resource and refuge for anyone that has ever struggled with their body, their relationships, and the pressures of life today.
In this interview I was so excited to pick Amy’s brain about body image, blogging, and how it all changes once you become a mother.
Jen: First of all, I really love and connect with your pieces on eating disorders and body image. I write a lot about those things on my own blog, and had a history with anorexia in my teen years. How do you find writing about these topics compares to working with people one-on-one?
Amy: I find that writing about eating disorders and body image on my website is more educational, informative, and activist. When I’m working with clients one-on-one, things are a lot more personal. We work on many different issues that relate to the eating disorder including mental health issues (like depression, anxiety, etc.), family relationships, social issues, future goals, and relapse prevention. Providing therapy for eating disorders requires a lot more than the education and an activist attitude found on my blog. I love working one-on-one with people. It’s so rewarding!
Jen: Fundamentally, how do you think we can work to begin to change how women see themselves and their bodies? Is it focusing on a healthy lifestyle? Changing society’s expectations of beauty? What are the main messages you hope to get across to your readers and the next generation of women?
Amy: One of my favorite songs is by Michael Jackson–”Man in the Mirror”. The song goes, “If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change.” I believe that we have to start with ourselves first. If you don’t really believe in your inner beauty, how will you be able to defy the negative and false messages about women’s bodies so widely accepted and perpetuated by media and society? Once you are able to accept your body and let your inner beauty shine, you will be a great messenger. Then you can spread the word to friends and start letting your voice be heard with advertisers.
To address the “healthy” question, I believe that our society needs to start focusing on health from a wholeness perspective. To me, being healthy does not mean working out and eating “right” (whatever that means!). Being healthy is striving to take care of our whole body–physical, mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and relational. Being physically fit is only one aspect of health. We need to strive for wholeness in all these areas to truly be healthy. For example, what good is it to have physical strength and endurance if you are unhappy and disconnected from loved ones? IMO, finding balance in our lives is much more healthy than eating vegetables.
The main message I want to get across to the next generation of women is that there are many ways to be beautiful. Your value as a women is not about how skinny you are, how young you look, how long your hair is, or what color your skin, eyes, or hair is. Your value is much more about inner qualities like compassion, determination, endurance, and integrity (or whatever your unique gifts are). I hope all women will realize their worth.
Jen: I’m fascinated by the dynamic of career-versus-motherhood for modern women, and I think it’s so inspiring how you’re still staying close to your work AND embracing motherhood so beautifully. How has having a baby changed your career? How has your blog and the connections that it’s created influenced this new stage in your life?
Amy: Having a baby changed my career by putting it on hold. I knew from the start of my career that I would take time off to be a full-time mother when I had the chance. I have never regretted that decision because I love being a mother! I’ll admit that the transition was difficult at first, and that is how my blog has helped me. I love staying up to date with the issues I care about, and my blog is a way to do that. I have had to be careful not to let my blog become another full-time job, because I want my priority to be my son (and other children when they come along). I love having connections with others who are passionate about the same body image issues that I am. It adds to my passion and gives me hope!
Jen: Tell me a little more about your blog. Is it built on WordPress? Did you make and design it yourself? It’s so beautiful!
Amy: My blog is actually still on Blogger. I’ve thought about WordPress A LOT, though! I just haven’t taken the leap. When I see certain features on other blogs that I would like on my blog, they are usually WordPress features. My design is actually by Designer Blogs. I think I got a great design for a good price, and they were fabulous to work with. They made sure I was truly happy with the design.
Jen: How have you spread the word about your site?
Amy: I’m on Facebook and Twitter. I use Networked Blogs on Facebook to automatically publish my posts to Facebook. I also have my Facebook account linked to Twitter so the things I post on my Facebook page get tweeted on Twitter. I attend Twitter parties and have begun hosting my own monthly Twitter party with other professionals using the hashtag #girlsnow. I also went to a blogger conference last year called Evo where I was able to network and connect.
I also do community presentations on body image for women and girls. I love speaking about this issue!
Jen: Since the goal of this site is to encourage people to join the conversation on their own blog, and overcoming the fears that come with it, do you have any final words on “blogging fearlessly”? What advice would you give to a beginning blogger?
Amy: To me, blogging fearlessly is more about dedication and commitment than about saying whatever comes to your mind. You have to be committed to providing good information to your readers in a respectful tone. In order to effectively add your voice to society’s divisive discourses, you need to show that you are educated, open-minded, and passionate. You can be passionate about an issue without using vulgar or insulting language.
To new bloggers: Don’t give up yet! When I first started blogging, I wanted to quit many times. My wonderful husband kept encouraging me, and I’m glad I stuck with it. I don’t blog as often as I used to because I’m trying to strike a balance with motherhood, but I’m glad that I still have my website. It’s there to be a force for good, and I’m proud of it!
Want to Connect with Amy?
Visit her beautiful website – Becoming a Better Woman at www.becomingabetterwoman.com