TW: discussion of body image, food mention, sex mention
It's time for October's Wellness Wednesday blog post!
This month is a busy one. There's pumpkin carving, pumpkin pie, pumpkin boat races (it’s a real thing!), and of course coming up with a costume that tops last Halloween. Unfortunately, for many, many people, myself included, this can be fraught with anxiety. See, for people who don’t fit our society’s idea of an acceptable appearance, we often feel pushed away from costumes we might otherwise like to wear.
That’s a load of barnacles.
Last year I finally gained the courage to wear a costume I had spent years telling myself, “Maybe next year when I’m thinner.” While I am working on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, I’m not going to sit around for a fairy godmother to turn me into a kingdom-approved princess. I’m already a superhero. (I was Black Canary from DC Comics last year; this year’s heroic costume is TBD.)
I want everyone to feel empowered to wear the costume that they want without the pressure of either a sex-shaming or a sex-pushing society. This kind of attitude shift won’t happen overnight, but I’m hoping anyone reading this will feel at least a little inspiration.
Step 1 - Centre yourself
In the words of Mufasa, former King of the Lions, remember who you are. You are both the author and the protagonist in your story, whose chapters are open. You can be a warrior, a maker, a supporter, a hero. You can be a pirate, a tomato, a sexy pirate, a sexy tomato.
And in the words of a true Halloween icon, don’t dream it, be it.
Step 2 - Brainstorm
When it comes to creativity, there’s no such thing as a bad idea, only bad executions, so let the thinking flow! To get started, think about categories like book characters, movie characters, superheroes, animals, household objects, real life people (friends, family, public figures), and puns. Just be careful not to make a culture into a costume. Bounce the idea off some friends or read up on cultural appropriation.
Got an idea? Great! If not, don’t worry, something will come to you. Try running through your clothes and seeing what could be turned into something else.
Step 3 - Fight the fear
Once you have a costume idea, the following thoughts might occur to you:
“Oh, but this character has totally different hair and skin than I do.”
“I wish I could pull off a black leotard, but I guess this stapler costume isn’t happening.”
“But if I’m a sexy Eiffel Tower, I’ll have to shave my body hair.”
And here’s how you gotta respond to yourself:
This is your costume, not anyone else’s. Don’t let the haters get into your head with fear and negativity. Halloween 2017 only comes by one time, do you want to spend another year wishing you’d be brave enough to wear the costume you’ve been dreaming of?
Tell these fears to a trusted friend or family member who’ll help you feel secure in your choices.
Read more body positive blogs and Instagram posts.
Fight the fear, be courageous (like a lion).
Step 4 - Get spooky!
Now that you have that idea and a little more confidence, get out there and make your costume (or buy it, we all have busy lives). Be sure to check out Value Village on Bloor or one of their other locations in the GTA for discounted clothes and costumes. Near UofT there’s also Malabar on McCaul and Spirit Halloween on Yonge and on Queen. Unfortunately, like many regular clothing stores (although who am I to say that costumes are “"""irregular""”" clothes?), they may not have all sizes, so be sure to call ahead for these.
Step 5 - Hold your head high
You may run into enemies along this hero’s journey that you’re undertaking. You may have people staring at your body and making unsolicited comments that may fetishize or harass you. Just ignore them. They think that by hurting others, they might feel better about their sad selves. That’s pretty sad. You know what’s not sad? Wearing an awesome costume for the awesomest holiday. Ignore the haters and remember why you’re there (hint: to have scary, spooky fun).
We at AVSSU hope your Hallo-season is filled with confidence and fun frights. In the meantime, you can find me at Value Village being indecisive about which DC Superhero to be.
Hey Daniels! It’s Wellness Wednesday!
This month’s theme is body positivity. You may have heard the phrase before, but what is it? Wikipedia’s entry for the Body Positive Movement defines it as “a movement that encourages people to adopt more forgiving and affirming attitudes towards their bodies, with the goal of improving overall health and well-being.”
One of the beautiful things about body positivity is how open-ended it is! It can also mean self-acceptance, self-love, self-compassion and more (probably starting with ‘self-’)!. Most importantly, it’s a journey. It’d be pretty great to wake up one morning with complete confidence and freedom from insecurity, but in truth it takes time and effort. Framing your self-image with a positive light isn’t always easy, but can lead to a happier and more relaxed life. If your self-image is something you think you might need professional help for, you can get in contact with UofT’s Health and Wellness Centre to find out the best fit for you, which may include the services of the Daniels Faculty embedded psychologist: https://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/hwc/services-offered
The Centre for Women and Trans People offers a peer support program for a variety of subjects, including body image and mental health. Find out more about it here: http://womenscentre.sa.utoronto.ca/programming/peer-support/
Also check out this guide to strategies to become more positive about your body!
Finally, social media can be a powerful tool to implement body positive thinking. Search the hashtags #bodypositive or #bodypositivity on Instagram and Twitter. Comment your favorite body positive advocate!
Here at AVSSU, we wish you confidence and self-appreciation of your awesome self. If you have a story to tell regarding body positivity (As short or long as you'd like!) you can submit it here to be posted for WW: https://goo.gl/forms/vMGvKQKt0fR7z5iO2