All bodies are beautiful and Toronto-based Now Magazine proves it every year with its body issue.
Now Magazine is an alternative weekly in Toronto and every year it celebrates body positivity and diversity in a special issue.
For 2019, the theme is body love, and 10 people posed in the buff and talked about what their bodies mean to them.
Like Franceta Johnson, an artist who experienced firsthand how the fashion world treats plus-size bodies while she was interning at a magazine.
"I was the only big girl there. No one was telling me, 'You’re too big to be here.' But all the standards that were being thrown at me felt like an underhanded, 'You don’t belong here.' I was trying to understand where I existed within this ideal of beauty that the company had. That’s when I started to define beauty for myself, outside of these standards, because this was obviously not how I was going to live my life."
Tyler Lumb is a barber who transitioned later in life.
"I had top surgery a few months ago and that was it for me – I was like, 'I will go out into the streets naked! I don’t even care! I wanna scream it from the roof!' I couldn’t wait for my bandages to come off. It was euphoric for me to be able to take off my shirt and feel comfortable. I don’t care about the scars – they’re a part of who I always wanted to be."
As a double lung recipient, Shirzana Mitha carries a piece of someone else's body.
"I remember looking in the mirror one day after my surgery. I had all these scars and I was putting vitamin E oil on them, and I was like, 'Why am I trying to hide them? They’re proof of everything I’ve overcome.' That’s my medal of honour, my badge. I don’t want to cover them up anymore."
Jack Larmet is an artist, a musician, a dad, and a survivor of sexual assault.
"But when I started talking about it to people, and especially when I started to make art about the experience, I could let it go ... Once I dealt with this in my art, I could finally sleep soundly. My walking, my posture, everything was transformed. I finally feel comfortable in my body."
Journalist Danielle d’Entremont talked about recovering from an eating disorder.
"I’m no longer looking at food as good or bad and worrying about exercising everyday. That’s been a huge shift for me. Nurturing your body seems simple, but for me it feels like an extreme act of self-love."
Mina Gerges also struggled with an eating disorder while going viral on social media.
"When I first reached internet viral fame, I was recovering from an eating disorder. I was posting pictures of myself recreating celebrity photos, and people were noticing I was gaining weight with every picture. They went from commenting on how awesome a DIY dress that I made out of garbage was to making fun of my body. People called me fat, obese and ugly and it led me to severely Facetuning every single picture."
Writer Melanie Chambers learned to appreciate her body's strength and resilience.
"My mom and I used to do Jane Fonda exercise cassettes together, and I remember Fonda saying that it wasn’t until she was in her 40s that she starting waking up and not feeling anxious anymore in her body. Now that I’m in my 40s, I’ve stopped listening to those inner nagging voices. I listen to my own voice."
Chantel Spaulding overcame binge eating with bodybuilding, but that was its own challenge, too.
"A lot of people think bodybuilding must be very healthy – it is and it isn’t. It’s not healthy to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time. And competing actually amplifies body image issues because your body changes a lot, especially after a show. I had to learn to embrace those fluctuations."
Anshuman Iddamsetty told Now that everything changed when he decided to gain weight.
"I want to dismantle the system that arbitrarily marks one body as valuable and another as surplus. I want slender traitors. The people who despise others who look differently and deny them equal pay, basic human rights and dignity – I want them to be traitors to their preconceived notions of what the body is and isn’t."
And, finally, Sheila Dobson who had a double mastectomy for breast cancer and knows that women have to be their own health advocates.
"Society wants me to have breasts even though I don’t, and that’s what makes people feel uncomfortable. So this is reclaiming who I am and how I feel. Authenticity is really important to me, and most of the time, I forget that I don’t have breasts."