Jae West embodies the word: brave. A modern day warrior, she is an internationally renowned activist and visionary, who's courageous public stunts have raised awareness & highlighted important truths about beauty and body images issues to millions of people worldwide. A multi-talented dance & yoga instructor, actress, teacher, public speaker & PhD Candidate, she has created interactive workshops & playshops that connect her students to new parts of themselves through movement and sound. She is also the co-founder of The Liberators International; a global network and social movement of over 100,000 people in over 150 cities worldwide. Radical self expression enthusiasts and experts in bringing people together in the most beautiful and simple ways, their revolutionary public stunts and social experiments continue to spread love, freedom and inspiration to all corners of the globe.
Her first public experiment "Girl Undresses In Public" involved removing her clothing while standing in Piccadilly Circus, London. Standing blindfolded with markers in her hands with her arms held out next to a sign that said "I'm standing for anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder or self esteem issue like me... to support self acceptance, draw a heart on my body" (watch it here).
Her second, more recent public experiment was in Times Square, New York. Blindfolded again, only this time with scissors in one hand and an electric shaver in the other, she sat on a stool next to a sign that said "Beauty isn't dependent on our external appearance. Cut or shave a piece of my hair to support this message" (watch it here).
To any woman out there who has struggled with body images issues: know that you are far from alone. Let Jae's message inspire you to take some kind of positive action, no matter how small, whether it be walking straight into the mirror right now (I dare you), looking in your own eyes and telling yourself that you love you just how you are, because these seemingly superficial issues are far from petty or trivial: they are deeply imbedded within our consciousness and affect every decision we make. Not being able to accept your own face or body has immense consequences on every area of your life, so I encourage you to make self-acceptance a priority.
Jae's powerful and yet gentle presence is both comforting and encouraging. She walks with a quiet confidence that stirs intrigue, she speaks with a soothing softness that attests authenticity and when she looks at you, her kind eyes show she sees you and she cares. They tell an interesting and colourful story: one of depth, love and freedom, of radical self expression and self discovery, of facing one's shadow and of rising from the ashes, challenged, tested and changed. Humble, graceful and full of gratitude, Jae is absolutely a women who embodies her truth and beauty.
Q & A with Jae:
What is your favourite nickname?
Well Jae is actually a nickname because my full name is Jessica so that’d probably be my favourite. It’s stuck with me for over a decade!
What is your Sun & Moon Sign?
Sun sign is Scorpio and Moon sign is Leo
Who are your biggest heroes?
Audrey Hepburn for her grace, poise and elegance. I find she marries the worlds of beauty and intellect so uniquely and powerfully, reminding women of the importance of character, moralities and kindness.
Brene Brown, being a fellow researcher in the area of science, I love how she articulates herself and her research with such precision and eloquence. She shares her heart and life so openly and authentically which is something I deeply admire and respect. It takes courage and bravery to allow yourself to be seen, it is that vulnerability that is the birth place of true intimacy and connection.
Last of all as cliché as it sounds my parents for continually loving me exactly me as I am and supporting me on the crazy journey that I’ve been on!
Where do you get your strength from?
My Mum, she’s such an embodiment of warrior spirit and continually teaches me the power of letting go and moving on. We can so often stare at the door that’s just closed that we divert our eyes from seeing the new doors and possibilities that have opened up just around the corner. That is what she continually reminds me.
“Like the ocean our true depth of beauty is immeasurable by the surface”
These words came to me as I was preparing the second self-acceptance social experiment in New York City in 2016 and have stuck with me ever since. They sum it up for me, our beauty can’t be defined by what we see on the surface because we have to acknowledge things in their totality.
Yes some things can be innately pleasing to the eye which is commonly due to symmetry and pattern recognition but in a person beauty is also an interweaving of their morality, character and openness to give and receive love.
How would you spend an ideal Friday night?
A potluck picnic dinner down at the beach with a whole group of friends. All gathering around a bonfire with musical instruments, laughter, story-telling and delicious vegan food! A hot cup of tea would definitely be on the agenda as well.
What self-loving habit would you recommend others try to help improve their sense of self-love and self-acceptance?
A daily meditation practice to help anchor and ground you I find is so important. We are creatures that love excitement and change, so although having a set routine can at times seem boring and monotonous, it helps calm the mind and create trust in ourselves so that during times of chaos we can act from a space of response rather than reactivity.
We physically take a shower every day to clean our body so meditation is the equivalent for cleaning the mind of the chatter and nonsense that can build up!
Also having a daily gratitude practice is deeply rewarding. Whether it’s with yourself or with a family and friend this is the fastest way to come into deep harmony for what is. I message one of my closest friends daily or every second day expressing the things I’m grateful and it’s so inspiring to share that positive energy forward!
What is your advice to young girls and adolescents about body image/self acceptance?
I could talk about this topic for days as it’s been my biggest teacher and will continue to be my teacher! One thing that I would definitely say though is take the time to reflect on the person that you want to be for yourself and others regularly.
I personally value courage, trust and honesty and want my individual expression to embody those characteristics so I have little check points with myself to see if my actions are reflecting my morals. I can recognize when my actions start to waiver due to external influence, then it’s about having the integrity to share authentically with myself and others my vulnerability. For me self-acceptance comes when I’m in alignment with who I want to be for myself and others and loving myself in the times in-between, knowing that I’m always trying my best.
What was your favourite/s Liberator event/project/moment?
Both of the social experiments that I did had such deep teachings and so are equally my highlights for different reasons. The first one was about me coming face to face with my biggest demons. I was showing the world the thing that I was most shameful for, that I had had a distorted relationship to myself and my body and couldn't love myself exactly as I was. The second one was so liberating because it was a complete rebirthing without having hair.
What has being a Liberator taught you?
It's taught me that openly sharing your vulnerabilities with others creates a space of true intimacy and connection which is what we're always searching for.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Find actions that rewrite the conditioning of who you think you are and instead create the possibilities of who you want to be. Stepping out of your comfort zone is a good place to start.
Jae and I behind the scenes of some projects
To learn more about Jae and read her personal accounts of these heart-opening experiences: click here.
To read a lovely blog post by Jae entitled "The Invisible Woman" - click here.
To read another interesting article about Jae - click here.
To step outside of your comfort zone and get involved with The Liberators International, click here.