Mother and voice-over actor, Heidi Hawkins
Every January, the headlines at newsstands are pathetically predictable. “New year, new you! Lose weight! Diet! Change your life!” It’s enough body shaming to make even the most confident among us feel insecure. We’re led to believe that the only thing holding us back from having a better year is sheer willpower – and those last five pounds.
But what if we were told something different? What if we showed ourselves some kindness and appreciated who we are right now?
It’s with those questions in mind that NOW created the Love Your Body issue. For the last three years, we’ve featured dozens of inspiring Torontonians willing to bare all to help promote body positivity. These individuals are beautiful and diverse – in size, shape, race, age, ability and gender – with stories that touch on tragedy, transformation, reclamation, love and, most of all, acceptance.
The year 2016 saw an unprecedented number of diverse models on magazine covers and in the media. But according to the Fashion Spot’s annual report, only 30 per cent of models on the cover of fashion glossies were non-white, 5 per cent over the age of 50 and 0.9 per cent plus-size. While transgender people continued to gain visibility in film, TV and music, they still struggled to be represented in print.
For every achievement made by the body positivity movement in 2016, there were reminders that there’s still so far to go.
Ashley Graham became the first plus-size model on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue, a move that was celebrated by body activists as much as it was slammed by critics.
The film landscape, and the Academy Awards in particular, were noticeably devoid of racialized actors and directors, sparking the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite and prompting a necessary debate on the importance of diverse representation in Hollywood.
During the Summer Olympics, Nike featured Team USA’s first transgender athlete, Chris Mosier, in a commercial. Meanwhile, South African track star Caster Semenya’s gender was repeatedly questioned, and she was mocked for her physical appearance.
Breastfeeding, an act so natural and necessary to sustain life, is something that women are still shamed for doing in public. That’s part of the reason why we chose the photo of Heidi Hawkins and her son, Arthur, as this year’s cover. During the photo shoot, Arthur got hungry, and as any mother would do, Hawkins scooped up her child in her arms and fed him.
In the pages that follow, you’ll see photos that inspire and read stories of survivors. You’ll meet nine Torontonians proud of the skin they’re in. May they be a reminder that you, too, are strong, unique and deserving of love.
You are enough just the way you are. Michelle da Silva
This year's subjects:
- Prince Amponsah, actor, social work student at Ryerson University
- Monique Mojica, actor, playwright, artistic director of Chocolate Woman Collective
- Heidi Hawkins, mother and voice-over actor
- Paul Lancaric, voice-over artist
- Catherine Hernandez, author of the novel Scarborough, out soon, and mother
- Acacia Christensen, also known as Doughnut Messaround, wrestler, League Of lady Wrestlers
- Jasbina Justice, activist, yoga teacher, coordinator and performer with feminist porn company Spit
- Ted Hallett, improviser/writer, Date Me, Next Stage Festival
- Jewelz Mazzei, body activist and model
See last year's Body Issue here.