Joyelle Brandt, Radical Self Love Warrior

Leading up to the Love Your Body Summit, I am introducing you to our presenters through a series of interviews.And since I asked all the other presenters to answer these questions, I guess I should answer them myself too!

I will be giving the keynote address, and leading an art workshop called The Monster In Me at the summit.

Tickets to the summit are $70 and are available here.

Radical Self Love Warrior: Joyelle Brandt

Photo by Michele Mateus

1. Tell us a bit about your body positive work.

It started with writing a children's book, Princess Monsters from A to Z. The core message of the book is radical self love, and I wrote it for my inner child. I was a strange kid who didn't fit in. I had frizzy hair and ugly glasses, and I thought people could tell just from looking at me that I didn't belong.

After I released that book, I realized that I wanted to create an event for women and girls to come together in the pursuit of radical self love. We have an amazing body positive community here in the Lower Mainland, and I wanted to bring them together for one amazing day of body loving awesomeness!

Next up for me is a 6-week e-course that I am launching in March. It's called BE KIND to your Body, and it's going to be a playful exploration of radical self love (&colouring)!

 

2. What inspired you to become a body positive activist?

Early in life I had several body shaming experiences, from childhood sexual abuse to harassment. I carried that shame for so long, judging and hating my body. I was preaching the power of kindness externally, but I wasn't living it internally. After my second child was born, all this pain came to the forefront when I experienced post partum depression. That depression got so bad that I was having suicidal thoughts. As I finally began to heal from that depression, I realized that it was a wake up call for me to face the darkness inside me and begin to heal. And I want to share that healing process with others, so they don't end up in that dark place like I did.

 

3. What have you learned about body love that has made the biggest difference in your life?

Realizing this: Your worth is not determined by how little space you occupy in the world. I noticed that there are not hoards of magazines, commercials and pop-up website ads telling men to lose weight everywhere they go. Women are specifically targeted by the diet industries. And this is just one of the ways in which our culture keeps women small, keeps women out of power. Because women who are constantly focusing their time, energy and money on the newest weight loss fad will not have the time, energy or money to agitate for greater representation in parliament, or better access to abortion, or equal pay. Seeing how the dialogue about women's bodies plays into the larger ways women are oppressed in our society made me really angry, in a good way.

 

4. What is one change that you would love to see in the world to encourage more body love?

More diversity in the representation of women's bodies and women's lives in the media. We have come a long way in the last couple of years, but we still have a long way to go. For example, I would love to see more films that depict women as subjects instead of objects. More women in film period. More women in front of the camera and behind the camera. The images we see are the fuel of our dreams. When we see ourselves represented, we are given permission to dream those big dreams. Actress Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin spoke eloquently about the difference having a Latina community positively represented on television makes when she accepted her Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV series:

“It allowed Latinas to see themselves in a beautiful light. When we look into that screen, we change the way we feel about ourselves; we change our perception of ourselves by the way art has created such a ripple effect.”

The stories that we tell determine our reality. The archetypes that we create imbue our collective conscious with a framework that we use to build the world. I would like to see more images of women who we can admire and look up to in media.

 

5. Name another body positive activist that inspires you, and tell us about him/her.

There are so many, it's hard to choose just one. I heard Taryn Brumfit speak a few years ago at Leading Moms, and she really inspired me. I love how she says that "Your body is not an ornament, but a vehicle to your dreams." I also love Beauty Redefined, sisters Lexie and Lindsay Kite, who pursued their PhDs in media and body image, and then created a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting positive body image and resilience through teaching people to recognize, reject and resist harmful messages about female bodies in media and cultural discourse. My favourite quote from them is "Your reflection does not define your worth." And one more I have to include is Jes Baker, otherwise known as The Militant Baker. Her Body Love conference inspired the Love Your Body Summit. Because I thought, if she can do it, so can I!