Jill Andrew PhD(c.), is an award-winning columnist, educator/student equity advisor, and media consultant on female body image, empowerment, and representation. She is founder/director of BITE ME! Toronto Int’l Body Image Film & Arts Festival, Curvy Catwalk Fashion Fundraiser, co-founder of FatinTheCity.com a plus-size fashion ‘fatshion’ blog, and the annual Body Confidence Canada Awards. Her reflections on race, gender, and size analysis through a feminist, fat studies lens is a crowd favourite on-air and in print. Jill is a Soroptimist Foundation of Canada Grant Recipient as well as a recipient of the Michele Landsberg Media Activism Award among others. She recently did her first TEDx talk on Fat Shaming. For more on Jill visit http://www.bodyconfidencecanadaawards.com/
I never forgot when my aunt stood up and berated my mother in front of a table full of family and friends for allowing me to have, “one more piece of meat” during a holiday meal. Funnily, most kids can’t wait to sit at the ‘adult table.’ It’s a right of passage I suppose. But for me, being a kid with the adults simply meant more eyes, more potential pot shots under the guise of concern, tough love and reminders to sit up straight. Sure, the latter had health benefits I’d appreciate later in life but the rest? Body shaming.
Last month, a Mall Santa in the town of Forrest City, North Carolina, resigned after fat-shaming a boy who visited him. “Lay off the hamburgers and French fries,” said Santa to Anthony Mayse, a 9-year-old boy who had merely asked Santa for an iPod Touch and Drone. He left Santa’s lap in tears.
EveryBODY has a story and a purpose – and on October 6, the 4th annual Body Confidence Canada Awards (BCCAs) brought together a diverse and inclusive community to recognize 11 outstanding champions of body positivity, equity and diversity!
This year’s recipients truly embodied what body confidence is all about. From body activism to human rights, education, arts and entertainment, health and wellness to fashion with a social conscience, recipients are role models who are leading the way toward a world where body-shaming does not win.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
Words hurt badly. Words can be violent. They can entice violence—violent actions, violent thoughts, violent assumptions. Verbal abuse can be a severe form of domestic violence. Words can be violating.
When someone has had violent words hurled at them whether in person or online it’s an instant trauma—whether we know it or not. Although the psychic or physiological impact may not present itself immediately, without a doubt some part of our core instantly absorbs that shock. Sadly, we live in a society where the shock value has seriously eroded - it’s wearing off at speeds faster than light. When too many of us get to, or have been in, a place where we ask ourselves not “if” we will be verbally assaulted today but “when” this highlights the pervasiveness of the issue.
Almost four years ago our lives changed for the better when we decided to create the Body Confidence Canada Awards (BCCAs) – and we haven’t looked back!
Inspired by outstanding body image awareness initiatives taking place in the United Kingdom, namely their Campaign for Body Confidence (2009) and the inaugural Body Confidence Awards (2012), my partner Aisha Fairclough and I decided it was time to create a likeminded platform in Canada. We created the BCCAs to acknowledge and celebrate people for whom their personal and professional lives embodied and inspired body confidence, body positivity, and body diversity in our communities.
Most mornings, I look in my bathroom mirror and say, “I’m a big bright burning star and I’m gonna shine forever!” The reality is some mornings I may not believe it but I say it anyway. It’s my chance to cloak myself in love and assurance before I walk into the world, playing the leading role in my one-woman show. Even when I’m uncertain, channeling confidence and taking informed risks inspires me to live boldly.
That’s my body confidence.
“…Moments in life aren’t just created on their own. They’re shaped by the people you surround yourself with...the people that get you there.” – Sydney Shannon
Athlete and photographer Sydney Shannon from Whitecourt, Alberta is surrounded by her mom, dad, big brother Andrew, and her coaches who have acknowledged her talents and helped make her believe in dreaming big. In the video “I’m Sydney Shannon”, Sydney, who struggled as a kid with exclusion, describes herself as a “product of mentoring.”
Earlier this year the Canadian Women’s Foundation rolled out it’s first-ever Girls Voice Video Contest. They asked girls across Canada to create videos about issues affecting you and other girls in your schools and community. Not only did you all answer the foundation’s call but you all rocked the house with videos that vividly showcased your voice. We received some of the best youth-produced films tackling social issues such as relational bullying and violence. You told us just how important confidence is to you and better yet reminded your viewers how they too can tap up on their confidence when it’s running low.