Pushing the Boundaries of Comfort with Blogger and Self-love Enthusiast: Jes Baker
"Lose the Bullshit. Liberate Your Body." is the tagline of this self-love enthusiast's blog, The MIlitant Baker. Jes Baker is an all around inspiration for bloggers, aspiring speakers, troublemakers (a.k.a. people who push the boundaries of comfort), and her thousands of followers.
With a blog that gains nearly a half a million views a month and has been covered by media platforms such as CNN and Cosmo, Jes Baker is unafraid and unapologetic to speak on a variety of subjects including (but not limited to): the journey to body acceptance, rape culture, equality, and more.
Baker isn't just a blogger, public speaker, and published author, though. She is also the first keynote speaker for the first The Bloom Freely Co self-care session on body positivity (click here to save your seat)!
Read our conversation below, as we delve into how her journey all began and what she's learned along the way.
You do so much! You’re a self-love advocate, body image blogger, speaker, and published author (amongst other things). I’m sure there’s so much to it but where did your journey initially start?
Blogging! I started blogging a long time ago while I was baking full time and in a terrible relationship! I needed a distraction and wrote about vintage kitchenware, which was what introduced me into the world of "Lifestyle Blogging." As I accidentally found body positive blogs (most were Tumblrs), my journey and writing changed and I transitioned over to The Militant Baker. But it all began with blogging.
Was there a significant moment where you decided to speak on body image? In other words, what inspired you to take on this journey of speaking out for fat girls?
I will never forget the night that I stumbled across The Nearsighted Owl, written by Rachele Cateyes.
This blog baffled me. It had all the components I loved - recipes, owls, polka dots, and purple beehives - but with one difference. Rachele was fat. She was not only fat; she was fat, confident, and happy.
Scrolling through her posts, my mind was momentarily broken, trying to wrap itself around the fact that there was a woman in the world who looked nothing like the “ideal,” but who was living a full and joyous life. No shame, no apologies, only confident posts about her favorite books, her art projects, her marriage (this is where I discovered that fat people get married too!), and her heroes. I continued to visit the page out of genuine curiosity, and soon I was hit with the most revolutionary thought,
"Maybe I don’t have to loathe myself for the rest of my life.
"Maybe I don’t have to loathe myself for the rest of my life!
"Maybe I can even sort of... like myself! Could it be true? Well, if Rachele can do it, perhaps... yeah, maybe I can too!"
It’s astounding to me that I hadn’t realized this before but I’m glad that I did at age 26. Better late than never, right?
How did you become comfortable speaking on uncomfortable topics? I feel like sometimes aspiring writers and advocates who have a burning desire/passion may find difficulty in finding their voice/speaking up!
I'm not a shy person and I would assume that this helps. I've also been publicly speaking for years and so sharing in real life feels like a thrill! My favorite part of the job is meeting people and hearing their stories, sharing common feelings, and hugging.
As far as writing online, I suppose I speak out and continue to do so because the need for this message is larger than my fear of judgment or hate. It's not always easy. I have to take breaks for my mental health but I continue writing, speaking, and sharing because we have a long way to go before this message is actually heard.
Speaking on speaking up on the controversial… when people react negatively to your voice/work, how do you respond without taking it personal? I’m guessing it’s a work in progress.
It depends on the day to be completely honest. Some days I can handle it; the comments roll off my back and sometimes even make me laugh. There are other days, though, where I know I'm not able to handle the toxicity online. I've figured out a system to keep most of it out of my life. I have an amazing social media monitor that does deleting/blocking/banning for me so I have less rage to deal with. I don't Google my name very often. I've removed myself for the most part from all social media outlets except for Instagram (which tends to be a more dedicated community) and limit my time online.
Sometimes I can see that it's just projection and sometimes it hits a nerve. So you are absolutely right - it's a work in progress.
When talking about “body positivity,” what’s important for you to be covered/unignored? I recently read your post on “LisaFrank BoPo” and how the conversation around body positivity has become fractured.
For me, I feel like my job is to share the information that we're not inundated with. Debunking health myths, talking about racial inequality, showing pictures of fat girls eating cupcakes blissfully, etc. Bringing up topics that are uncomfortable, challenge the status quo or just push buttons sometimes - as long as it's real and true - I share it. I do this because there is so much information about the opposite subjects that I feel there needs to be balance. I want others to have all the information, not just the capitalist or popular views, so that they can then make an educated decision about how they want to live their life!
If you feel comfortable sharing, what are you currently struggling with?
I'm in the middle of finishing a manuscript that is a memoir and oh my god, it is so hard. It's equally exhausting from the writing standpoint and also the digging up of trauma that is necessary to write it. It will be worth it when it's finished but... god, it is a daily, year long struggle.
In regards to blogging, you’ve become a huge influencer! What advice do you give to an aspiring blogger who seeks success in it?
Honesty. Authenticity. Being yourself and only yourself.
I feel like that's a pretty cliche answer but it's the truth. People need real. They need to be seen. They need solidarity and those things come from being open.
Because you do so much, I must ask… how do you find work/life balance? In other words, practice self-care.
I work every single day, which is inevitable. I've tried to make it work with days off but it simply doesn't. So every day I do things to balance it out - sleeping well, taking meds, acupuncture, being with family, reading inspirational books, hugging my dog and cats. It all helps.
What are the three biggest lessons you’ve learned in this journey of “losing the bullshit and liberating your body”?
You will never please everyone, so don't try to make every person happy. Instead, work towards progress and becoming the best person and ally you can be.
We are taught a lot of myths that are passed off as gospel. Question everything.
Every single person deserves to feel worthy and valuable no matter what body they have. Full stop.