Through her award-winning writing, keynotes and her events, University of Toronto graduate Jill Andrew aims to move closer to a society where women, girls and others can experience a higher degree of body positivity, diverse representation and empowerment.
“Being judged or excluded based on looks can have unspeakable consequences…if you don’t see yourself anywhere it can feel like you don’t matter.”
As the co-founder of Body Confidence Canada, the organization behind Body Confidence Canada Awards, national human rights campaign #SizeismSUCKS and one of Canada’s newest weeks of significance Body Confidence Awareness Week, Jill is constantly advocating against appearance-based discrimination and the impact it can have on children and adults alike in schools, workplaces, healthcare and even housing. Jill is also the co-editor of FatinTheCity.com, an inclusive fashion blog and co-editor of two upcoming anthologies on fat embodiment and Black sisterhoods with Demeter Press.
Jill’s fearless advocacy sadly means she endures a lot of criticism. At first it hurt, she says, “now I collect the comments and use them in my keynotes to show why the work I and others are doing is so important.”
“I’ve survived child sexual abuse and extensive bullying in high school but I didn’t do it alone,” explains Jill who credits her mother for getting her professional counselling.
“We need more culturally relevant counselling otherwise many of us don’t have access to its potential to help us heal both mentally and physically from trauma.”
Jill also credits Tropicana’s Scarborough Youth Resource Centre and its then leader Eleanor Edwards, a childhood mentor who Jill still maintains a deep connection to, among many other Scarborough safe spaces for helping her get through it all. These are the experiences that fuel her passion today as a community leader.
“When young people do not feel confident this has implications on how you do in school, and sometimes leadership opportunities are forgone. It’s really hard to lead if you don’t feel that you’re worth it or you don’t feel heard.”
In the process of writing her PhD dissertation, Jill is also heading a Fashion and Diversity course at Ryerson University. She is doing her part to change perceptions through her academics and encourages others to do the same.
For more visit www.BodyConfidenceCanada.com. The Body Love Ball Fundraiser takes place Dec 2 @ The 519.