Up next on The Real Bodies Manifesto model profile series: Laury Thammavong.
“When I think about real bodies, I literally think about redefining beauty to embody more than what the dominant cultures glamorize. I think it’s about self acceptance, empowerment, radical self love, continuing to sustain critical consciousness, and seeing the power and perfections in our very own imperfections and helping others see theirs.”
Aspiring law student
How do you do good?
My whole life I’ve been told that my face is too full to rock the pixie bob haircut I’ve always wanted, or that my chest is too flat for tube tops, or that my body is too short to wear all the vintage clothes that make me happy. So for the longest time, I hid my body under ordinary clothes and resisted the urge to come home with ones that I really wanted or loved. It wasn’t until I survived multiple accounts of sexual assault and abusive relationships and immersed myself in radical feminism and womyn’s empowerment for me to recognize that if I’m always afraid of what other people think or bury myself (or my body for that matter) under a rock, then I will have already given all my oppressors the satisfaction of keeping me down and worse, either knowingly or unknowingly, reproduce some of the systematic structures of oppression. It wasn’t long before I recognized that life’s too short to deprive myself of radical self love. I got the haircut of my dreams, sport it in tube tops when the sun is out, rock my vintage clothes, and more importantly, reclaim my love for my beautiful SEA heritage, my body, my mind, my spirit, the way I want to live my life, and yes, my fabulous SEA eco-feminist and vintage fashion lovin’ vagina.
When I think about real bodies, I literally think about redefining beauty to embody more than what the dominant cultures glamorize. I think it’s about self acceptance, empowerment, radical self love, continuing to sustain critical consciousness, and seeing the power and perfections in our very own imperfections and helping others see theirs. It’s about depth and diversifying, if not revolutionizing, perceptions of beauty, power, and humanity. Embracing our real bodies, our real selves no matter how different- now that’s powerful, and it’s my belief in this that has lead me to embark on a feminist career to empower marginalize communities especially womyn and girls. Fighting for the rights of people and the environment can mean anything from standing in protests, organizing a march, typing city council items, shopping local, recycling, or helping children feel safe and realize their unrecognized beauty and power.
As a Southeast Asian Laotian American vagina warrior, former feminist organizer, and minority and environmental rights activist, and a proud daughter and sister of a refugee family, I seek to not only empower myself and others who have also survived violence and trauma, but to reclaim our entitlements to safety whether it’s at home, at work, our communities, and/or our very own bodies.
Where do you find inspiration?
The first place that comes to mind in terms of where I find inspiration is people. I’ve had the blessed pleasure of being immersed in communities full of people who inspire every single day whether they be my family, my friends, leaders at conferences, insightful strangers, and even children. I find that people have a powerful presence of their own and my favorite is when they actually realize it. I also find inspiration in people who are empowered and at peace with themselves. A wide variety of other things inspire me. Some of which include art, decolonized creativity, politics, books, spirituality, nature, my ancestors, working out, and my personal experiences with discrimination are all places of inspiration for me.
What do you love the most about yourself and why?
I love my courage. Sometimes I forget that I have it until I find myself doing things like being the lone person challenging patriarchal rituals during the Buddhist ceremonies at home, or heading out the door in the wind and rain by myself to the protest, breaking stereotypes, or having the courage to come back to school and graduate after a difficult decade, or allowing myself to expose my skin wearing what I want to wear, and living how I want to live my life whether or not it’s validated. My courage makes me resilient, deep, and in love with life.
Check out The Real Bodies Manifesto lookbook here and the video here.