Amber Krzys is Goddess of the Week!

“I think that any major issue that anyone struggles with all boils down to the same thing, which is ‘I don’t feel worthy. I’m not loveable.’ It all seems to boil down to that crisis. Inside, we all just want to be loved - and we put these barriers in front of us because it’s also kind of scary.”

-- Amber Krzys, founder of bodyheart

Amber Krzys is on a mission to change the way women relate to their bodies and to ultimately bring more balance to the world by celebrating femininity and the 'ART of a woman.' Amber is the founder of bodyheart, an educational program and movement encouraging women to celebrate the ART of their own form. Growing up as a dancer/actress and working professionally on Broadway, in television and in film, Amber experienced firsthand the pain of negative body image and trying to fit an “idealistic mold of beauty.”During the process of receiving her Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology from The University of Santa Monica, Amber overcame her cycle of body punishment and negative self-image and developed the core curriculum for her signature workshop, bodyheart 101. From there, the bodyheart campaign was born.Tabby Biddle: Bodyheart is devoted to healing body image issues and celebrating the female form. Why is this so important?Amber Krzys: I believe this is important on so many levels. Our body is our vehicle in this life.  It houses our spirit and, quite honestly, is full of it’s own wisdom if we take the time to get to know it. Unfortunately, we live in a society that doesn’t support this concept, especially for women. Many women cut themselves off from their bodies early on in order to succeed or even because they learn at an early age that their body is shameful and/or not good enough.Negative body image and self-loathing create such a heavy burden in the mind and body. This culture is so obsessed with perfection and ideals that we have lost ourselves in the process. Young girls today are being affected as early as age 6. I’d like to get back to a time where children are free to be children and women are free to be women, and bodies are considered valuable no matter their size, shape, age or color.

“I personally believe that the final step in embracing our femininity is owning and celebrating our body as the magnificent, pleasure-filled creation it is and is meant to be.”

Tabby: When women start to love their body, what are some of the other benefits that come along with this – for the women personally and for all of us as a global community?Amber: I talk about this in my workshops quite a bit. The obvious benefits are increased confidence and freedom. Many women don’t realize how much space is taken up inside their heads thinking about their body and what they are going to eat, what exercise they will do, or how they are going to lose weight. If those thoughts of punishment, blame and criticism went away, what amazing creation could appear? I know because this is what happened to me. Once there was space for more – that’s when bodyheart came into existence.My life is totally different now. Instead of restriction or meanness, I have space for compassion for my body. And, that transfers to all other areas of my life. My relationships have improved because I now believe I have value. When we know we have value, we walk around differently in the world. We are more centered ... more at peace. Regarding the global community, I believe that the microcosm affects the macrocosm. Many women are walking around every day in an abusive relationship with themselves and their bodies. They are at war inside. Fighting on a battlefield everyday. Personally, I feel there is enough war in the world, so I put all my energy into ending the war and finding peace inside myself. I believe that does affect what is happening out there. I may not serve in the armed forces, but one thing I can do is stop the fighting inside myself.  That IS one thing I can control.Tabby: You grew up as a dancer/actress and worked professionally on Broadway and also in television and film. How did this career path affect your relationship with your body? Amber: I was highly affected by my choice of career. The entertainment industry can be extreme and very harsh. The dance world thrives on competition and comparison. You are literally in class in front of a mirror for hours on end. Of course comparison is going to flow out of that. At least it did for me.Since I can remember, I’ve always had a desire for perfection and have really pushed myself to be that in all areas of my life. But, I didn’t become super obsessive about my body until after I moved to Los Angeles. I can remember sitting with an agent who asked me to lose weight around my thigh and hips, and spending time in a relationship where my boyfriend told me he wished I were taller, thinner and had bigger boobs.These, of course, were all of my own insecurities rising to the surface, but I didn’t see it that way at the time. It became an opportunity to blame, torture and punish my body. I treated her -- my body -- like a child who was misbehaving. She deserved to be punished because she wasn’t what she was supposed to be, which was taller, thinner and with bigger breasts. The career intensified these feelings because there are certain expectations associated with the entertainment industry. So, if I didn’t book a certain job it was because I was too fat. And that meant the next day a whole new round of punishment would ensue. I am so grateful to be out of that cycle now!Tabby: You have been a devoted student of S Factor for the past three years, and have gotten to the point, you have said, where you call S Factor class “therapy.” Tell me more about that.Amber: Yes, it is definitely a form of therapy for me. It is one of the only places in my life where I give myself permission to get lost in the present. I actually leave my brain and let my body lead. My senses are so super alive. I’m aware of everything … my hand moving across the cool floor, the softness of my skin, the scent of my shampoo, the lyrics and emotion of a song, the pleasure I am experiencing inside my body as she becomes electrified.S Factor is also a sacred, safe space for me. There are no mirrors and class is led in a dark room. But more importantly, the connection with the other women in class is 100 percent supportive. I can let my guard down there and be seen. I am accepted and embraced whether I wear make-up or not … whether I’ve gained five pounds or not …  whether I’m happy or sad. It’s okay there. I can cry or scream or be sexy there. That is very much like therapy to me.Tabby: Right now women’s leadership is such an important topic. How do you feel a woman coming to love her body could help her as a leader?Amber: I think there is great significance in this. For most women, when you are not comfortable in your body, you tend to want to hide it. You want to not only hide your body … you want to hide your voice. You don’t want to be seen. So as a leader, you are dimming your light. No one is getting all of you.I think there is a real link to empowering the whole woman. How you are showing up in the world has a lot to do with your body. You have all of these things – your mind, your feelings, your connection to spirit -- that come together inside the physical form. The body is really the link. If women are hiding, it’s a disservice. In this day and age I think our world really needs femininity. It needs to bring back a balance. I think one of the final steps of really moving that forward in this world is owning this body as enough. Tabby: You talked earlier about women being at war inside. As women come to love, appreciate and respect their bodies, what do you think is the effect on men?Amber: What I really notice with my clients is that there is a dynamic in relationships where if women are not comfortable inside of their body, they are basically blocking off access to pleasure and they want to hide – so the physical intimacy inside of a relationship can be challenging. I did a survey that asked men if they have ever been in a relationship with a woman who is very self-critical of her body. A good number of men wrote back and what I found out was that for them being in a relationship with a woman who is very self-critical was so tortuous for them.  This is because they look at women and they see beauty. They see this amazing work of art that most women aren’t willing to see inside of themselves. When a woman is willing to stand forward and say, “I am perfect right now just as I am,” what happens inside of a relationship is a greater bonding, more closeness, and a deeper intimacy.Tabby: Speaking of women as amazing works of art, you are using your voice to grow a movement of celebrating the 'ART of a woman.' What have you had to overcome in order to use your voice in this way? Amber: In many ways, I have been very lucky. I have never had an issue talking to large groups (thank you acting training), or sharing my truth. I have always found value in hearing others’ stories, so I try my best to share mine as honestly as possible with those wanting to hear. I think it’s important for us to know we aren’t alone. So, I am so grateful for this gift.I guess the biggest challenge for me has been getting the message out into the world.  It’s definitely not easy going against the grain and that is what bodyheart does. Most people do not believe it is actually possible to love the body they have. They think they need to change their body in order to have value. When the truth is if our bodies need to change, they will do that pretty easily when we start respecting them and taking care of them.

"There is also a readiness factor to this work. I do not offer a quick fix. bodyheart is a daily commitment that takes great courage, honesty and vulnerability. Some women are ready for that and some aren’t. I trust those who resonate with this material will take action and join the bodyheart army. That’s how I like to view us … a force in the world setting out to reclaim our true beauty and worth!"

Tabby: You are growing awareness of your work through the bodyheart campaign. How does the campaign come to be? Amber: The bodyheart work started as the educational program. That's the workshops and coaching that I offer. But then I realized, some women are ahead of the game and are walking the walk and taking care of their bodies. I started to ask some of my friends that I admire - who put themselves and their bodies at least in their top five priorities - if I could photograph them. So I started taking pictures of women with hearts on their face and their favorite body part. I did it for two reasons. The first is because I really wanted to get a conversation started about what we love about our bodies. We are so good at telling people about what we hate. Telling ourselves, telling our reflection in the mirror, telling our friends, I wish this were different. I don’t like this about my body. What we focus on expands. So if we switch to focus on what we love, then maybe we will see more of what we love, not only in our bodies but in our life. Then secondly, I wanted to show how gorgeous women are - purely on their own, without any retouching. Every photograph we see in the media is completely retouched, so the message we receive from that is: This is what is beautiful. And more subtly, You are not worthy. I wanted to break that with the bodyheart campaign and say: Look for the truth. This is the truth. These women are gorgeous.

"The campaign is open to every woman, anywhere in the world. We take self- submissions. If you are inspired to honor your body, you are welcome to stand forward and say: This is what I love about my body, then draw a heart on your body and send that picture to us. We will gladly display it.  We will be so thrilled to honor you and your process."

Tabby: Amber, what does being a goddess mean to you?Amber: To me, it means a carrying forward in the world the concept of femininity. This world that we live in values productivity so much – What do you do? How do you get it done? How much did you get done? I think the qualities of the feminine are different than that. Feminine qualities are nurturing, softness, gentleness, and generosity … It’s much more about letting things be. It’s about having space and holding space for the answers to come instead of trying to fix. 

"The 'ART of a Woman' event was such a goddess day for me because I was not only celebrating who I am as a woman, but I was stepping forward and owning my body and celebrating my body. I wore a dress because a dress makes me feel just deliciously yummy and like a goddess."

If I curl my hair, it’s about enhancing what’s in my heart. It’s about enhancing the beauty that’s within me. So on the physical level, I stepped forward on that day. But even beyond that – I stepped forward spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. There was such a celebration of ‘woman’ in general. That is what a goddess is to me. Embracing those elements, leading with those, and being an inspiration for other women to see those and say, Oh I can be that too.Tabby: Speaking of stepping forward, you have created a video series called a bodyheart BIT. Can you share about this?Amber: Sure. bodyheart BIT a short one-minute video tidbit that I do weekly. It’s very new. I am sharing something that has inspired me during the week, or something that I’ve decided to take on, or something that I’ve read that is really fantastic. When people watch it, they will either find value in it or they won’t. But that’s the thing, if we all led with “What I have to share is valuable to someone,” then that’s going to effect how we are in the world and also the person who has receives it. Even if just one person takes that on and tries it and experiences one thing new inside their body or in their life, then it’s worth it.Tabby: What is your biggest vision for bodyheart?Amber: It sounds kind of silly, but I believe that I am on a mission to change the world. I think that women have barely tapped into the collective qualities of the femininity that we have. I want to be a part of tapping it and making it come alive. I want to change the way a woman shows up not only in her body, but in her life. When I think about bodyheart, the big dream is to change the world.Tabby: If you had a loudspeaker that women around the world could hear, what message would you want to impart? Amber: You are worthy just by existing on this planet. Being here, even though it sometimes doesn’t feel like winning a prize, really is. This life is a gift. By being here, we are worthy. What would happen if we led with that?

To learn about bodyheart workshops and coaching, visit www.bodyheart.com.

To join the bodyheart campaign, visit www.bodyheart.org.

To watch the latest bodyheart BIT, click here.

Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed., is a writer, speaker, writing coach and workshop leader dedicated to amplifying the voices of women changemakers. She lives in Santa Monica, CA with her husband.