07/06/2010 11:29 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

A Different Kind of Independence Day

In honor of Independence Day this year, I'd like to unveil a project I've been working on for nearly a year now. Project BodyTalk is an audio commentary project modeled after the StoryCorps audio project, which sends a mobile recording booth around the country and invites people to step in and tell a story that's meaningful to them.

As the name suggests, Project BodyTalk is all about bodies and our relationships to them. To our own bodies, that is, as well as about our relationships with food, eating, body image, eating disorders, and anything else related. The goal: To help us break free from the bonds of our obsession with appearance, body image, and food. The more we tell these stories, the less shameful and scary they become.

There's something powerful about hearing someone's story in her or his own voice, like Kelsey's commentary, which describes spending years working to accept and love her body, only to be told by a doctor that she's obese and needs to lose weight. Or Pat's story, about a woman in her 60s who struggles with her judgmentalism toward people who are fat -- especially herself. Or Elizabeth's commentary, which tells how she learned that bulimia is not a choice from watching her sister struggle with the illness.

The stories are heart-wrenching, poignant, funny, and thought-provoking. More stories are going up on the website every day. Click over to the Listen page and see if any resonate with you. We've also got a page devoted to other body-positive projects. See if there's one near you, or consider starting your own.

We don't have a mobile recording booth, but we do have audio studios on the Syracuse University campus, where I teach, which are open for recording by appointment; email me at Or record your own MP3 or MP4 file and email it to me at the same address.

And happy independence day. May we all be free of our obsessions with eating and body image and turn our considerable creativity and energy toward more interesting and satisfying projects.