Parallel Session 14

The m.Bodiment Project: Body Positivity Workshop

 

Abstract 

Egale is Canada’s only national charity promoting LGBT human rights based on gender identity and sexual orientation. From advancing marriage equality to working with educators and school administrators to making schools safer, to training police services; Egale’s vision is of a Canada free of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and all other forms of discrimination so that every person can achieve their full potential, unencumbered by hatred and bias.  
Within this framework, fat-phobia, body shaming, and discrimination based on appearance are seen as detrimental to a person’s self-esteem, and in turn a potential danger to their health. For this reason, Egale has created the m.bodiment project, funded by the Movember Foundation. m.bodiment focuses on gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (GBTQ) men’s body image and its implications for mental health. This project highlights the experiences of a number of different of men, illustration the commonality of poor body image – no matter what one looks like. m.bodiment aims to foster a dialogue about GBTQ men’s bodies; gay, bi, trans, and queer men’s body image; mental health; and health and wellness.
As part of the m.bodiment project, we conducted an informal online survey of GBTQ men’s experiences with body image and health care. The results were significant, with participants recounting experiences of body shame, feeling left out, and unable to maintain meaningful relationships because of their bodies.  Gay, bi, trans, and queer men experience low self-esteem, rejection, fear, and shame based on their body image. This project and this workshop help folks understand the systems of oppression in place in society; highlight the systemic problems that leave men feeling bad about their bodies, and allows people to realize that it is the system that is ‘bad’, not their bodies. We want folks to understand that all bodies are good bodies.  
This workshop will equip participants with the confidence and tools required to minimize harm to gay, bi, trans, and queer men experiencing body image issues. Participants will learn to counteract expressions of body negativity from others, practice accountability in relation to the actions/expressions of one’s self and others, and have the ability to negotiate and provide support for participants regarding their body negative experiences.  
Participants will work through a series of discussion-based activities to ensure a basic understanding of Anti-Racist, Anti-Oppressive, Anti Sizeist and Anti-Ableist approaches to body positivity. Participants will name and identify the components of major body-focused discourses, including Health/Fitness and Attractiveness/Beauty and discuss practical approaches to addressing the above issues. 

Summary 

Fat-phobia, body shaming, and discrimination based on appearance are seen as detrimental to a person’s self-esteem, and in turn a potential danger to their health. For this reason, Egale has created the m.bodiment project, funded by the Movember Foundation, which focuses on gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (GBTQ) men’s body image and its implications for mental health. 
This workshop is part of the m.bodiment project and will equip participants with the tools required to minimize harm to GBTQ men experiencing body image issues. Participants will learn to counteract expressions of body negativity from others, practice accountability in relation to the actions/expressions of one’s self and others, and have the ability to negotiate and provide support for participants regarding their body negative experiences.  
Participants will work through a series of discussion-based activities to ensure a basic understanding of Anti-Racist, Anti-Oppressive, Anti Sizeist and Anti-Ableist approaches to body positivity. Participants will name and identify the components of major body-focused discourses, including Health/Fitness and Attractiveness/Beauty and discuss practical approaches to addressing the above issues. 
This workshop also includes a review of the four major categories regarding gender identity and sexual orientation.

Knowledge Level: All

Presenter Biographies

Sookie Bardwell first became involved in LGBTQ-positivity work while attending secondary school in a small rural community, and has been engaged in this work ever since. She currently travels around the country leading intersectional anti-oppression workshops focused on building capacity among educators, police officers, on-campus employees at colleges and universities, and other groups to challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and all other forms of oppression in order to create safer spaces for all people. She’s very passionate about consent, agency and body sovereignty, body positivity, radical vulnerability and transformative approaches to the work of building healthy, equitable relationships and communities. Her ultimate goal in life is to work towards a world in which we can all feel safe being exactly who we are and have a really good time doing so! 

Christine Hsu is the sports inclusion coordinator and facilitator at Egale Canada. She is a certified educator (OCT) in Intermediate/Senior with Health & Physical Education and Family Studies as her teacheables subjects. She has a strong interest and passion in physical activity, sports, fitness, and holistic wellness, including mental health. Her experiences of facilitation range from workshops on AODA, sexual and gender diversity, equity and inclusion to leadership development. She is always seeking different ways for people to have a positive, fun, and informative workshop experience through experiential learning, self-reflection and sharing of narratives. She uses she/her/hers/they/them/theirs pronouns.