Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Behind the Scenes with BoPo Babes: AmaScriver

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

Ama, aka @amascriver is a freelance writer and community builder based out of Toronto, Ontario Canada. You may have read her work on Bustle, Hello Giggles, or in Paste magazine to name a few. She was also part of the team that ran Fat Girl Food Squad, which went on indefinite hiatus January 2016. Most recently she was featured in the 50th edition of THIS magazine alongside writers such as Margaret Atwood. On top of that, she runs her own blog and social media. If you follow this powerhouse, you will see not only body positive dialogue but some delicious food as well!

Before the days of Instagram, Ama found her body positive inspiration on Tumblr. Specifically Jessica Luxery of Tangled up in Lace. “I remember reading her Tumblr way back in 2009/2010 and just being in awe of her. She would post these incredible selfies and I never thought that I could be as beautiful or fabulous as her.  A lot has changed since then, but I really owe a lot of my body positivity journey to Jessica Luxery because without discovering her Tumblr back then, I really don’t know where I would be right now.”

In a world where being fat and happy is seen as radical, Ama finds her own brand of body positivity by simply existing and showing the world her life. “With my Instagram, it’s just about me living my life and having fun. I think all too often, we don’t think that fat women are allowed to take up space in this world and for me, it’s important to demonstrate (via my Instagram) that I’m out there fat and thriving. This can be anything from eating food to going out with friends or photographing the fun events I get to go to - really I just love to share my story and my world with the people who follow me. I hope that the people who do follow me appreciate it as much as I love sharing it.  It’s not always political but there is meaning behind it. I think it’s important to show fat folks experiencing life - people identify with that because it’s real.”

Being online is a great way to connect with other people who are like you; that can make you feel less alone especially if people are reacting negatively to you just existing. Sometimes taking what you’re learning online into real life can be challenging, but Ama has some thoughts for us.

“I think being body positive online can be done via social media like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook - whichever format works for you - by participating in conversations, hashtags, posting photos or blogs. There are so many ways to get involved online and such a great community of folks. (…) Surround yourself with other incredible fat babes like yourself who are strong, loud, shouty and the most important attribute: supportive. I find that through my fat babe community, I have come across so many great articles, learned about so many great clothing lines and found a great support system for myself - for good days and bad days. The internet is such a great tool for learning, sharing and finding other like-minded folks.

But I think the biggest thing to remember is developing a positive body image isn’t necessarily easy and often takes a lot of work - online or offline. Being body positive offline is learning to celebrate ourselves and our bodies and work to combat the traditional and Western beauty standards. It’s knowing that you have self-worth and gifting ourselves with self-love.  Each and every single day in your body positivity journey (offline) is a daily discovery process, regardless of shape, size or gender. As humans, our bodies are all different, diverse and unique - and that’s okay! Coming to the fundamental understanding that we deserve to feel happy, healthy and loved is the first step is a positive body journey.  From there, everything else is onwards and usually upwards.”

No matter where you are in your journey negative comments can come your way. These can be from strangers online, your own family, or the media. Ama shared with me that she has been targeted because of her weight multiple times.

“I was part of a targeted attack by Breitbart's Milo Yiannopoulos (aka Nero) and some of his followers recently, which I posted about on my Facebook, but not on Twitter or Instagram.  It was a scary 48 hours dealing with several MRA’s flooding my Twitter with hurtful and harmful comments, akin to the attacks that Leslie Jones just dealt with (but not at that rate).  I have also been sent by others photoshopped photos of myself to look skinnier via Instagram, multiple times and the crown jewel: I once had someone write an entire blog post dedicated to how they wanted to take me and Fat Girl Food Squad founder Yuli to a deserted island so they could hunt and kill us because we were fat.

It’s always really awful to have to deal with shit like that. I don’t really know how else to put it, but it does inspire me to keep fighting and keep wanting to do more for our community and others out there. To know that they should be allowed to be visible and they shouldn’t have to hide.  Yeah, it’s a blow but nobody is going to keep me quiet: loud and shouty, forever.”

When it comes to dealing with haters of your own, Ama says “Block and report, forever and always.” (I know I include this is almost every bopo babes interview, but it’s so important for you to know. The haters are not worth your time. All these babes so say too!)

Body positivity is not just about our physical bodies as we know, but our emotional and mental health as well. Learning to love yourself is so much more than feeling cute in a swimsuit. When it comes to self care, she seeks a little outside assistance.

“I visit a therapist once a week, which is honestly very helpful. But honestly, that’s more about mental health than body health. Although, they all kind of tie in together. I think in November 2015, I realized I needed to start focusing more on my mental and emotional health more and I made a lot of drastic changes in my life - some of which included ending Fat Girl Food Squad, quitting my full-time job in publishing and focusing on all the things that made me happy in life. Since then, this has made me much less stressed out and it has given me a lot more time to focus on self-love and self-acceptance. Do I still have bad body days? Absolutely. When I have those days - I just try to treat myself with love: put on a lipstick I really like or get my nails done or take myself to the therapeutic waters here in Toronto. Sometimes it’s the small things that can really turn your day around. By being able to provide more self care to ourselves, we will be able to provide that to others more positivity offline and online.”

Being a part of the body positive community has not only brought her amazing connections, but provided the opportunity to find guidance and inspiration. She knows that every day is an opportunity to help educate the world of her message.

“I wrote about this (it will be coming out in a print magazine in the fall) but I have witnessed some things in the community that have been passed off as ‘positivity’ and were just straight out bullying. I think sometimes we have a community that is seriously divided against one another and we need to stop that.  How - I don’t know. But what I do know is that we need to stop dismissing fat people’s experiences, all fat people’s experiences.  I know body politics are super tough and uncomfortable and there is a lot to unpack, but we have to stop segregating certain sizes against other sizes.  Privilege exists and perhaps I’m being way too optimistic in saying this, but I think we need to have all fat bodies work together and uplift and empower all fat bodies.

I believe that because of the platform I carry, getting to write for different outlets, it’s important for me to share others stories via social media and perhaps turning them into print or digital stories.  I realize that my voice is just one of several voices in this community doing fantastic work and we have to continue to uplift and empower the other voices within our community, especially those who are typically left out of the body positivity conservation including trans folks, women of colour, men and indigenous people.  We’re all in this community together and we have to keep fighting to make fat bodies visible each and every single day.”

Something that’s so important to lifting each other up is the confidence to ask questions. When you love something you think critically about it, you want it to be the best it can be. As part of a community, you want to be able to start conversations, enact change, make a positive difference. The worst thing we can is bash people down who are trying to spark these conversations.

“I wish more bloggers would stop co-opting body positivity and fat activism for an online presence and actually practise what they preach.  I find a lot of bloggers are too afraid to speak up about political things because they are afraid that certain brands won’t want to work with them anymore.  It makes me angry that they are co-opting hashtags that preach a body positive message but yet won’t stand behind what those messages mean - especially when I have tried to call into question some of their practises. For some in the Canadian market, this has made me not everyone’s cup of tea.  Some of the people I look to often in these situations are Amanda Richard’s or Ariel Woodson (of Bad Fat Broads) who have both offered several critiques on the body positivity industry as a whole.  I think a lot of people get upset when you critique them because they think you’re being negative or hostile, but the fact is, it’s quite the opposite.

For me, I hate seeing people taken advantage of under the guise of what is dubbed as “body positivity”. I hate that certain bloggers will not research the ethics behind the companies they are working with and really find out if they believe in and practise body positive methods. I’d like to see more bloggers and Instagram influencers who backed up the messages they send out socially, in all aspects of their work. I know that my views sometimes fuck up my paycheques but I’m not going to compromise who I am as a person in order to make money. I think liberating fat bodies is way more important here.  I don’t want to work with a company who has fucked up values or ethics.  For example, over the weekend I attended a Fuller Women’s Expo that was shilling diet products.  When someone tagged in the person who organized it to discussed their reason for having those products there and some others tagged in the hired bloggers for the event, no one said a word.  It made me so angry that this was the perfect platform to get angry or upset and say something to activate change and yet I was the only one who was clearly angry, upset or trying to do anything about it.  So much for body positivity? See my tweet here and I made a larger Facebook post too.”

Lightning Round
Favorite Happy Song?
  • Anything by Drake, because I’m from Toronto and I’m lame
What’s a movie that never gets old?
  • Bring It On
What’s a book you could read repeatedly?
  • Oh gosh, there are too many too mention …
Favorite ice cream?
  • Cookie dough
Favorite brick and mortar store?
  • I love supporting my friend Rachel’s store, Primaala -
Favorite online store?
  • I have been really into SocietyPlus lately
Favorite drink?
  • Arnold Palmer
Do you have any hobbies?

  • Swimming and eating - although not both at the same time

Until Next Time,
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1 comment:

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