My name is Shannon Clarke and I’m from Miami, Florida. Three years ago I went to a bookstore looking for a book on healthier eating and picked up this book and it happened to be a book on veganism and I was deeply moved by it and decided that I would become vegan. One thing I didn’t expect though was the fact that I would be just shedding pounds and at first I felt very uncomfortable about it because I was not in control of my body and I wasn’t purposefully trying to lose weight. I went from being size 14, size 16, to eventually coming down to where I am now as a size 8, size 6. And I guess the first change I saw was I went from feeling invisible in the lesbian community to feeling visible. I was now having an impact on women when I would go out to lounges or happy hours. One particular situation that happened was when I attended a happy hour and I saw the most amazing woman, she was just breathtakingly gorgeous. And I somehow found my way sitting next to her and we started chatting and by the end of the night I received her phone number. For me, that was mission accomplished. I ended up leaving the place with her and a friend and on the way out, she’s walking by my side and then puts her arm around my shoulder and whispers in my ear, “So are you going home with me tonight?” And my jaw just dropped. Never before, 1) would anyone ask me something like that and 2) being asked by a woman who was incredibly beautiful. Situations like that happened and of course I felt great afterwards but after a while it became uncomfortable in a sense. And the feeling was perplexing and I started kind of intellectualizing these situations and started deciding I didn’t want to participate in this superficiality or this strong interest in body image. It’s a blessing when you look amazing but it’s a curse and it’s also kind of a, it’s disturbing really. I don’t like that body image plays such an important factor, particularly when women are already marginalized and kind of have someone who’s, a group who has historically faced discrimination, discriminate against other women based on their looks is disturbing. Even now I’m a bit cautious when people take fancy to me. I’m not quite sure if they’re looking at me in this kind of superficial level of my looks or my body or if they genuinely want to get to know me. I’ve struggled in the sense where I’ve dated women purely for their looks. Now I try to look I guess in the depths of one’s soul to discover who they are. But I think it’s just so important to choose to value those qualities in a person.