As the Body Love workshop, held at Venus Envy in Halifax, drew to a close Wednesday night, facilitator Ama Scriver did the unexpected — she asked all 16 attendees to strike a superhero-style pose while blaring Beyonce’s 7/11.
“If you do a power pose for two minutes a day, it releases all these endorphins into your body, so I just thought ‘it’s a cool way to end.’”
Amidst laughter and increasingly outrageous poses, any heaviness that pervaded the room during the course of the workshop instantly lifted.
Body Love is about creating open dialogue related to body shaming and body image. Scriver’s goal is to encourage people to talk openly about negative body image without fear of ridicule or rejection.
As participants began to grapple with their issues of body confidence, Scriver encouraged them to tackle the biggest problem of all; she asked them to name their inner asshole.
“Mine is High-strung Harriett… I have many notebooks [at] home and I just write out all the [stuff] she says. When I actually read it out to myself, I’m like, ‘Man, she’s bananas and I need to calm down.’”
During the workshop, Scriver encourages everyone to take the exercise one step further and draw their inner critic. Though each depiction is full of self-criticism, creating a physical, and often comical representation allowed the participants to take authority away from that negative voice.
“Once (the workshop) started, I felt like I was working through my own problems more,” said one participant, Elizabeth O’Hanley. “I could talk to other people about this now and help them with it, but I feel like I got more help than I thought I would.”
Hailing from Toronto, Scriver, a dedicated foodie and freelance writer, is the community manager for Gastropost, a freelance writer, and a body image and feminist activist. As she sits in Starbucks on a chilly Thursday, sipping a Caramel Macchiato (with extra caramel), she’s proud of how far Body Love has come.
Body Love began with the now defunct Fat Girl Food Squad, a blog that Scriver co-founded with fellow food lover and activist, Yuli Scheidt. The pair began body image workshopping at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit and Babes Boardroom in Toronto.
“I took bits and pieces from all of [the past workshops] and then melded them together. I think this is the final version, but it could always change.”
For some, the workshop was about gaining new perspectives on body image issues.
“I didn’t realize it was gonna be so much about fat versus thin, I just thought it would be a general self-worth, body image type thing”, said Emma, as she bundled up against the freezing night air. “I didn’t realise how so many women felt. I didn’t echo the same sentiments that other people did. It was enlightening.”
New year, still you
The timing of Body Love is not lost on Scriver. With January already half over, many people are either struggling with or having already given up on their New Year’s resolutions for 2016 — a topic Scriver has already blogged about.
Scriver doesn’t completely toss off the notion of changing oneself, but she does encourage people to do it in stages.
“Even if you decided that this is the year you’re gonna start… taking more time for self-care or realising that you want to spend more time on your mental or emotional health. It’s entirely up to you how you get there.”