Nancy Amanda Redd
About Nancy Amanda Redd
An Interview with Nancy Amanda Redd
More About Nancy Amanda Redd
A top ten Miss America finalist in 2004, Nancy Amanda Redd graduated with honors from Harvard, earning a degree in women's studies. Named by Glamour magazine as one of America's top-ten college women "most likely to succeed—at anything," Redd is on a mission to tackle the issues least discussed but most significant in young women's lives. An active spokesperson for girl's empowerment and a television personality, she has received dozens of accolades and garnered coverage in coast-to-coast media. She is currently on the National 4-H Council Board of Trustees and has addressed numerous groups nationwide, ranging from school students and corporate executives to members of the National Organization for Women.
Q. Why did you write this book?
Was I the only girl who grew hair in strange places? Found yucky stuff in my underwear? Had deep dents on my thighs? As a teen, I had no way of knowing if the day-to-day worries like bad breath, embarrassing nipple hair, ashy skin, or heavy cramps were normal, so I assumed I was the only one doomed to suffer from them. So, I decided to write Body Drama, the book I always wished I'd had.
Q. How did your friends and family feel about it?
When I first planned this project, some people thought I was crazy (my mom was mortified), but as the book began to take form, my friends and family began to excitedly open up about their embarrassing body dramas…things that even after decades of knowing each other, we'd been too ashamed to talk about. Who knew that one of my cousins dealt with chronic yeast infections, or that my college roomie once had a tampon stuck inside of her for three months? I wrote Body Drama so that we could all acknowledge, understand, and celebrate the fact that every body is different, and no matter what size and shape you are, you deal with body drama, and you are not alone!
Q. You say you didn't feel comfortable with your body, even though you were a Miss America swimsuit winner (!). Why?
In flattering clothes and makeup, with my stomach sucked in and high heels on, I always thought that I looked great…but underneath it all, I felt like my body couldn't compete with the flawlessly tiny and toned women that the media displays as “perfect.” For the longest time, I didn't know that a lot of models were surgically enhanced, or on starvation diets, or that their photographs were often digitally altered. But even after I found out, I still felt inferior, because I never saw anyone who looked like me naked being touted as beautiful. Now, having photographed dozens of women of all shapes and sizes, I've seen glimpses of my body parts on many different beautiful young women, and I feel much more comfortable with myself. These real-deal, unairbrushed, and unaltered images are in Body Drama, and I hope that they will have the same effect on others who are struggling with their own self-image!
Q. Why did you decide to do the vulva spread?
Vulvas (AKA vaginas, hoo-has, or as Oprah says, vajayjays) get a lot of talk time, but never any face time! So much discussion goes into what is and isn't normal down there, but without any photos to back the conversations up—only diagrams and illustrations that don't even resemble the real deal! Nearly every teen I talked to about her body was ashamed of how she looked down there, sometimes because of an insensitive comment from a sexual partner, but mostly because she'd never seen another vulva and didn't know how they were supposed to look. I decided it was time to give vulvas (the proper name for what's actually visible down there) their fair share of camera time to prove there isn't one “normal” vajayjay!
Q. What's the most important advice you want to give to young women? And their mothers?
To talk! No matter how cringe-worthy the subject, or how worried you are about how what you say will be construed, you've got to get your issues, concerns, and problems out in the open, because it's much more damaging and troublesome to keep your troubles inside, and it's even worse to pretend like they don't exist. My mom and I are the best of friends, but we never had “the talk,” nor did she share any of her personal body dramas with me, which left me at a total disadvantage growing up. If she had only told me what the good, the bad, and the ugly of what was to be expected as a woman, I could have saved myself a lot of stressing out. Now, we go through Body Drama together, and when we come to many of the issues that were previously off-limits for conversation, I'm shocked to hear her candidly discuss how they relate to her and her experiences! Hopefully Body Drama can be that same kind of conversation-starter for more young women and their mothers, friends, and role models.
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