“That Girl”: capitalism’s new cheerleader

The nefarious new inspiration porn

“That Girl” wakes up at 6 a.m. for her morning exercise of choice, often yoga, jogging, or weight lifting. Then when she’s done, she showers, performs an elaborate skincare routine, makes her white bed, meditates, drinks a yummy homemade smoothie, puts on some bike shorts and a crop top, and, if she has some time, writes in her gratitude journal.

That Girl” is the latest internet lifestyle trend popularized on TikTok. Aimed at young women, this trend is supposed to encourage girls to be their healthiest, most productive, and #empowered selves — to become “That Girl” who is cool, skinny, and successful. The trend, like most things that live on the internet, has faced some criticism. So let’s unpack why “That Girl” is sort of problematic.

For starters, “That Girl” isn’t anything new. She’s the evolution of girls of the past like the #girlboss (popularized by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso). The #girlboss was simply a confident successful woman, particularly if she was an entrepreneur or her own boss. #Girlboss feminism was synonymous with pithy hashtags and sayings that you could slap onto a t-shirt, like #freethenipple and #girlssupportgirls. She has to operate in a “man’s world,” and so she’s encouraged to take charge, be unapologetic, and hustle. This brand of feminism was particularly championed by millennial women, has been accused of being superficial, promoting patriarchal capitalist attitudes and structures, and focusing on skinny, white, conventionally attractive cis-het women.

This leads us to one of the biggest pitfalls of both the #girlboss and “That Girl.” They’re not inclusive. Like at all. If you look up “That Girl” on TikTok or YouTube, you’ll see the same kind of girl participating.

  1. She has disposable income. Those fancy salads, candles, journals, and gym memberships aren’t cheap!
  2. She’s usually thin, white, and cis-het. And if she’s not all of those things, don’t worry. She’s still conventionally attractive!

On the surface, this isn’t so nefarious. Sometimes certain trends and lifestyles just happen to appeal to a certain demographic, right? But this lack of diversity becomes more troubling when you consider that “That Girl” carries connotations of moral virtue.

Throughout history and across cultures, religions, and philosophies, self-control has been valued. You see it in the writings of influential thinkers, including Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas, Confucius, and the Buddha. Asceticism is the practice of denying your desires in order to achieve a certain goal and traces of it can be seen in most major religions, including Christianity, Islam, and Buddism. Denial of food, sex, comfort, luxury, or even sleep are all seen as admirable sacrifices to achieve moral and spiritual purity, common ascetic practices include celibacy, fasting, and meditation. Ascetics, or those who successfully complete an ascetic practice are more moral than everyone else because they have overcome “temptation.”

Capitalism has a bit of asceticism in its DNA, maybe because of its links to Christianity. Though capitalism loves excess it’s quite strict. Give up sleep, give up a social life, give up being treated like a person… whatever it takes to be successful. Don’t get distracted by your desires and weaknesses, just focus. Anyone can be successful through hard work. If you’re poor, it’s your own fault. You should suck it up and hustle, to the point of exhaustion or even injury if necessary. Sacrifice and discipline is just what it takes to be a “good” and “successful” person in our society. This mentality doesn’t only apply to one’s career and finances, it also applies to health and fitness. Overweight people are shamed for supposedly being indulgent, lazy, stupid. There is no consideration for genetics, lack of resources, or other health problems. Culturally, thinness has long been associated with virtue, and fatness has been associated with decadence and failure.

Ascetics, thin people, the traditionally successful, and “That Girl” have all denied human desires in order to be superior.

“That Girl” is just a new form of the centuries long human desire to feel in control through self-discipline and strict routines. You can’t control the plague, earthquakes, famines, oppressive leaders, or the family you’re born into, but you can control what you eat, when you wake up, if you exercise or meditate, etc. But it’s a cycle of shame, guilt, and self-hatred when you “fail.” The trend serves capitalism, both with the luxurious lifestyle it worships and the attitude it embodies.

In all fairness, I do see value in these attempts to “romanticize your life,” enjoy the little things, touch grass, and be mindful. The trend also professes the importance of mental health, albeit in the most superficial, aesthetic, and pleasant way possible. “That Girl” does not go to therapy or need medication, she takes a bubble bath, puts on a face mask, watches only one episode of Friends, bakes… This self-care trend encourages you to spend money on certain products and is incredibly individualistic. If you are burnt out and depressed it’s your fault, not any system’s. Haven’t you been practicing self-care?

I urge you to aspire for something, anything more fulfilling and genuine than “That Girl.” Trust me, she’s not all that.


Feature graphic by Madeline Schmidt

The dirty truth behind “clean eating”

“Wellness” has become a ubiquitous term, but is it as beneficial as it’s marketed to be?

CW: This article contains discussions of disordered eating.

Turmeric capsules, alkaline water, detox teas — more and more the market is filling with new-agey products claiming to rid consumers of a multitude of ailments. One the one hand, many see this trend of “wellness” as a good thing. The more healthy food on the market, the more empowered consumers will be to make positive purchasing decisions. However, it may not be as simple as it seems.

What we now know is the wellness industry owes a lot of its tactics to ol’ faithful: the diet industry, which cares less about consumers’ health and long-term goals and more about keeping people hooked on their products and systems.

The wellness industry is chock-full of pseudoscientific answers to issues they themselves made up. Cleanses and detox regimens are a perfect example of this false promise. As Christy Harrison, a registered dietician and intuitive eating expert, explains, detox companies freely choose which foods they consider toxins, and this is not in line with actual scientific data. These companies label anything from gluten to coffee to peppers as toxins and then sell consumers a nutrient deficient liquid regimen to flush their bodies “clean.”

This can lead to a multitude of health problems. As Harrison explains, fasting cleanses can lead to massive drops in blood sugar, hypoglycemia and possible further pain from caffeine withdrawals. Further, research shows that “yo-yo dieting” may increase risk of heart disease in women.

The madness of the whole situation is that there is no point in detox dieting to begin with. If you have a functioning liver and kidneys, and have not ingested poison, there is simply no need for a detox — there’s nothing in there to “cleanse.”

We’ll come back to that word — cleanse — because it’s all over wellness marketing.

The diet industry is smart, and over the years marketers have realized that modern women are skeptical of the claims of diet pills, low-fat diets, and exercise programs of the 90s. So, the message had to change. Since the term “diet” tends to conjure up images of gloomy “before and after” shots, flavourless, pre-portioned freezer meals, and constant weighing, the industry has pivoted to a more positive and contemporary image — wellness.

Yet, a lot of the tactics of dieting have stayed the same with this turn to wellness, just dressed in new clothing. Cleanses, for example, rely on the same moral idea of food as either good or bad that the diet industry loves to pedal. No longer is food labeled “low fat” or “high fat,” now it’s “clean” or “toxic.” No matter the verbiage, this superimposes a binary between foods, erasing the importance of all types of food in a person’s diet. Despite aesthetic changes, the message stays the same: there is good food and bad food and it’s your job as a consumer to pick which side you want to fall on.

When we ascribe morality to food, that carries on to how we view people and their bodies. If it is seen as virtuous to diet and eat salads everyday and sinful to consume fast food, it becomes a personal responsibility to be thin. Thus, this contributes to inaccurate notions that fatness is a choice, and a scornworthy one at that.

Further, wellness culture does little to address the staggering food disparity across North America. Canada, for instance, holds many “food deserts” where healthy and fresh foods are either extremely difficult to find or exorbitantly priced. In these areas, diet concerns are less about healthfulness as much as simply surviving.

The shift from dieting to wellness has wider implications than just wasted money on overpriced tuscan kale and chia seeds. The shift towards “clean eating” can be connected to a new type of disordered eating: orthorexia. Orthorexia centers around an obsession with eating “cleanly” and healthily, rather than simply losing weight.

Sondra Kronberg, founder and executive director of the Eating Disorder Treatment Collaborative, explained to NPR, “Orthorexia is a reflection on a larger scale of the cultural perspective on ‘eating cleanly,’ eating … healthfully, avoiding toxins — including foods that might have some ‘super power.’”

Yet, this doesn’t make the disorder any less harmful. Though the focus may be less on weight than on perceived healthfulness, when taken to obsessive length, clean eating can still cause a lot of harm to your body, mental health and self esteem.

Furthermore, the celebrities and influencers leading the crusade for wellness and clean eating just so happen to be overwhelmingly thin. So, regardless of intention, the perception still stands: healthy = thin.

Whether it’s the Atkins Diet or detox teas, it’s important to be wary of the shifting goalposts of the diet — I mean, wellness — industry. These companies are promising an unrealistic aesthetic of health that may leave you worse off than when you started.


Feature graphic by Taylor Reddam

The ethics of altering your photos

Are you part of the problem?

It’s no secret that it’s easier than ever to alter your photos. No need to know your way around Photoshop or Lightroom anymore; with a simple slider, you can adjust your photo’s saturation, contrast, brightness, or even completely change how you look. Whatever it is you’re insecure about — your skin, teeth, stomach, or butt — you can easily fix it without going under the knife thanks to apps like Facetune. Even celebrities and influencers do it, with the Kardashian-Jenner clan particularly guilty of editing fails.

Collectively we seem to agree that it isn’t okay for celebrities and influencers to edit how they look in photos and pretend they look that way naturally. This is because social media has been shown to have a negative effect on body image, particularly for young women. If we agree that it’s wrong for celebrities and influencers to do it, then is it wrong for anyone to edit their appearance in photos?

After all, most of us aren’t famous. So, for example, if you follow 100 people and 10 are celebrities or influencers, then isn’t it more harmful to see the other 90 people’s edited photos? Aren’t we more likely to compare ourselves to our friends and peers than to Victoria’s Secret Models or NFL athletes? I want to know: is it unethical for you and I, “regular people,” to alter how we look in photos?

Geneviève Laforce, a Concordia student with over 35,000 followers on Instagram, and over 200,000 TikTok followers, told me she has mixed feelings about photo editing.

“I feel as though the most important thing is to be transparent with it. Like, if you actually do do it, don’t just do it and then not acknowledge it. For example, if I edit my skin, then I say I edit my skin, I will actively tell people,” she said.

“I definitely think that diving into social media at such a young age really did affect the way that I saw my body and see my body now,” says Amanda Wan, a Concordia student and content creator. “I understand that people want themselves to look a certain way. But on the other side, if they’re an influencer or celebrity, they’re lying to their audience because they’re saying ‘this is what I look like’ when in reality, they don’t.”

Wan says we should hold celebrities accountable for how they can affect followers through photos which portray perfection. These photos can be particularly harmful to the body image of younger people who follow them. In Canada, between 12 to 30 per cent of girls and nine to 25 per cent of boys aged 10 to 14 report dieting to lose weight.

Laforce mentioned the role that capitalism plays in creating a cycle of insecurity and impossible beauty standards.

“I think that we’ve created a problem for ourselves, but it’s like a cog in the 21st-century machine. We’re caught up in it, you can’t really get out of it. I think that it’s a problem that’s deep-rooted into society. And it’s gonna take some time to dismantle. But for now, it’s an issue that we’ve created,” Laforce said.

Today’s marketing is focused on making you insecure about how you look, so you need makeup, clothing, teeth whitening, plastic surgery, a gym membership, or laser hair removal. Insecure about your life so you need a car, a house, a puppy, kids, a big wedding, a trip to the Bahamas, a university degree. Capitalism depends on your insecurity and desire for more.

To help solve this problem, Wan suggests that platforms like YouTube feature more diverse creators. Laforce suggests that Instagram start telling you if an image has been altered, “Because although you may not pay attention to it, acknowledge it, your subconscious does if it sees that.”

However, what if altering how you look in pictures actually hurts your own self-image more than it hurts anyone else?

“You need to kind of know your truth,” Laforce said. “Why do I feel the need to alter this photo of myself? Is it to please the societal regard? Why is it going to, in turn, make you feel better about yourself?”

There are no easy answers; navigating social media is complicated. So I don’t think you should be too harsh on others or yourself. This minimizes larger systemic problems which create this rampant insecurity and desire for perfection. This implies that the individual or even the internet is at fault, which creates guilt and doesn’t lead to real solutions.

The truth is that people were insecure about their bodies before the internet, which has only allowed people to perform perfection for a wider audience. So what I’m saying is: do whatever makes you happy, let’s be more open and transparent about curated perfection, and let’s work on challenging the corporations which profit off insecurity.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam

Girls, are you on-air ready?

Female broadcast journalists and their efforts to be noticed for their work

It turns out that the “effortless beauty” exuded by female broadcast journalists takes a lot of effort. Waking up and washing your face isn’t enough to be considered on-air ready.

As far as Laura Casella, anchor at Global News Montreal is concerned, “The Laura Casella who walks into work from bed with [her] hair tied up in a bun and no makeup … that Laura can’t necessarily go on TV.”

For female broadcast journalists, physical appearance plays the biggest part in one’s success. These female anchors are the liaison between viewers and the news station, but their journalistic talents are often overlooked.

Laura Casella speaks on behalf of all female journalists when discussing how she wants to be recognized for her hard work and talent within her profession. She wants people to watch her for her stories, not her good looks or wardrobe choices.

So, you noticed my hair but you didn’t hear anything I was saying? I want people to pay attention to the context of my story like they do with male anchors,” Casella adds.

Double standards between men and women are very prominent in broadcast news, according to Caroline Van Vlaardingen, anchor for CTV News Montreal. She believes that male anchors are easily forgiven. Whether they are balding, carrying extra weight or even wearing the same clothing day in and day out, men are not criticized.

Van Vlaardingen continues, “In fact, one Australian male anchor proved it by doing just that, wearing the same suit every day for a year while his female co-anchor changed her outfits every day, and no one noticed.”

Karl Stefanovic conducted this experiment because his co-anchor Lisa Wilkinson was receiving unsolicited critiques from viewers on her appearance. After a year dressed in blue, Stefanovic wasn’t surprised to see that no one ever commented on his wardrobe choices. His experiment confirmed that he is judged on his journalistic talent while his co-host is not.

There are some observations that can be made among the female anchors at both Global and CTV News. To name a few, heavy makeup is an essential part of the ‘getting ready’ process, as well as tighter clothing.

Through observation of 16 women who appeared onscreen on Oct. 23 on CTV and Global News Montreal, every single woman was wearing makeup and jewelry. 75 per cent of these women were white and approximately 65 per cent were blonde and thin. More than half of these women were under 35 years old.

“Acceptance of aging among women on the air is … a challenge,” says Van Vlaardingen. “The sad irony of this job as a woman, is that just as you step into your most experienced years and feel your most confident, your body and face begin to show your age.”

According to Van Vlaardingen, women who gain weight or develop wrinkles as they age tend to disappear from high-profile on-air jobs. Those that manage to stay on-air have a lot of work done to maintain their desired look. Botox, consistent hair colouring and dieting are common ways that female anchors preserve the youthful look.

Kim Sullivan, weather specialist at Global News Montreal, states that she never felt pressured to look a certain way by the management at Global.

“In my first year at Global, I gained 40 pounds because I was going through fertility and never once did I feel that I had to lose it.”

On the other hand, Sullivan does feel as though she doesn’t fit the look of the ‘ideal weather woman’ but emphasizes that this was a pressure she imposed on herself.

There’s one dress that all weather women have to have, so when I started my job at Global I bought it as a joke. It’s called the ‘weather girl dress.’”

There are underlying standards women must adhere to when considering a professional career in media. Huda Hafez, Journalism student at Concordia University, is an aspiring news anchor. Hafez explains the criticism these women receive in regards to their appearance makes her uncomfortable.

“I want to be a hard core journalist, not a piece of eye candy. I’m definitely aware of what I’m getting myself into, but we are a growing society and I’m hoping that things start and continue to change once I get on the air.”


Graphic by @the.beta.lab


The two sides of TikTok

 I love TikTok as much as the next Gen Z-er, but that doesn’t mean it’s good

When one is in a tormented state of mind, we often turn to the easy fix — quick stimulation that will produce serotonin in our brain, and help us to feel all warm and fuzzy once again.

But sometimes we fall into a vicious spiral of self-loathing. And sometimes that spiral is aided by social media — trust me, I have been there.

TikTok is a place that’s filled with hate, and it’s easy to get stuck in the wrong place. It’s an app where anyone can reach fame and fortune for dancing, or pretty much any other talent — but also a place where people tear each other down constantly. I mean, just look at the comment sections (which is half the fun, if I’m being honest).

Hugo Bronckart, or @hugoingtohell on TikTok, a second-year Communications student at Concordia, gained popularity over the summer on the platform. He can speak to how the torment that is present on the app impacts his experience on the app as a creator, and as a user.

“A lot of the comments can be really out of pocket sometimes. People will just come for you for the smallest detail,” he said. But in his experience, this is similar to any popular social media platform.

However, there is another side to TikTok — a hidden side — that considers itself as elite (alt TikTok, duh). This is the side that @hugoingtohell finds himself on, this is a side that, in my opinion, is a more acceptable, and generally a nicer, more open minded place to be.

In his own words, his For You page is filled with creators, artists, and queer people. Bronckhart says he feels genuinely accepted within the alt side of Tik Tok.

“I feel like it’s a pretty good app. Obviously, I realize I am still a white male, and I fit into those beauty standards on the app, especially as a skinny white gay guy…”

The main issue with TikTok, in my opinion, are the smoke screens of self-acceptance and body positivity trends. These are disguised to make us feel good, but can largely make people feel unaccomplished. At the end of the day, this app just perpetuates a negative body image for any person, of any age.

For example, the idealization of teenagers —  primarily their body types and lifestyles — is rampant on the app. Most users of the chinese social media platform are in their twenties, but a lot of the influencers on so-called straight TikTok are young, beautiful girls. Bronckart said, “Since there are so many young girls, you can be really sexualized really easily, especially in those trends like the WAP trend. But I don’t really experience it though, I just see it.”

For example, there is an overflowing amount of “what I eat in a day” videos with eating habits that should never be copied. It’s not uncommon for the creators of these videos to eat a single rice cracker with apple butter in the morning, followed by a whopping McDonalds feast at 11 p.m. This tempts us to feel bad about eating full meals, because most of the time we see skinny girls eating much less.

It’s also the new platform where people can get cancelled as fast as they rise, completely disregarding their persona and shutting them out of the inner circles.

“It’s a huge thing that can be toxic,” said Bronckart.

This phenomenon can be great, like when it comes to Harvey Weinstein or another monster. But when we are dealing with a young adult who has yet to fully grow and mature — such as James Charles, a young makeup artist who has cancelled throughout all social media for a personal scandal with Tati Westbrooke, I think it can be extreme.

Don’t get me wrong, there is always entertainment in seeing what others do. For example, duetting is one of the most underrated features of the app. It allows users to create a side-by-side response of a video, allowing them to answer questions directly or to give context or an opinion on a separate video. These are then circulated through the For You page.

“I’ve seen a lot of Indigenous creators calling out people… It gives different perspectives,” said Bronckart.“Duetting stuff, it’s a super good tool because you actually get to educate the person who created the original video, but also other people on the app.”

However, we have to stay constantly aware that we can easily fall onto the laps of trolls, and in TikTok this is facilitated to a next level. All of this to say, take it with a grain of salt.


Feature graphic by Taylor Reddam


“You like my body the way it is”

A few weeks ago, at The Link’s launch party (no, there is no feud between our publications) BackxWash performed “You like my body the way it is” off her Deviancy album. In a moment that felt like I was in a movie — as if the camera was behind and panned to a POV of me watching BackxWash perform — I latched onto those lyrics and snapped into journalist mode. A story idea (this one) came alive.

BackxWash starts by saying she had a dream she would die and go to heaven, moving into the second verse with, “If he [Jesus] made me in his image/ It’s amazing how I hate seeing my face up in the mirror”. The rest of the song takes you through this sentiment; the feeling of inadequacy, the idea of wanting to change parts of yourself, either partly or completely. Then the chorus shines through: “you like my body the way it is” — you admire it and cherish it and love it just how it is, regardless of how much I don’t like about it or what I want to change.

There has been a growth in the body-positivity movement over the past few years, with everyone preaching that you should love yourself just the way you are. The thing with body-positivity is that it can take years for some to actually achieve a state of mind of full acceptance.

If someone has years of issues with their body image, just telling them “love yourself” or that there’s nothing wrong with them doesn’t do much. Sometimes, especially if someone has struggled with loving themselves for a long time, it takes more than simple affirming statements from a stranger over the Internet or kind words from your friends to really spark a change of mind.

BackxWash’s song is a reality check that these thoughts of inadequacy and of wanting to change parts of yourself are still on people’s minds, despite the body positivity movement trying to rid the world of negative thoughts people have about their bodies. Her song is also a soft reminder that having another person love the parts of you that you hate can help you learn to love those parts yourself.

There have been times where I didn’t like parts of my body, either because of the perfect body propaganda on social media and in advertising around me, or because of years of feeling inadequate and inferior to everyone else my age, or even because I was comparing myself to others. All of these added to my already not-so-great self-image. But between those times of self-doubt and of feeling inadequate, there have been people who were patient with me, who took the time to learn what I didn’t like about myself and made sure I knew they loved those parts of me. They made sure to tell me they liked my body the way it is, even if I couldn’t see it at first. And soon enough, because of these people, I started liking the parts of myself that I used to not like so much.

The point of this is that, sometimes, we all need a little help loving ourselves, to see ourselves in a new light and to not feel so alone. As BackxWash says: “But when I’m feeling so cold, you don’t get me a coat/ Your touch gives me the warmth, you don’t leave me alone.” While, no, we shouldn’t need to depend on someone’s validation and idolize their opinions about us, having others’ reaffirmations that they love the parts of you that you dislike can help you in loving yourself. By someone telling you they like your body just how it is – without objectifying you, of course – despite all the flaws you point out to them, you may also start liking your body the way it is.

Graphic by @sundaeghost


The movie Tall Girl reviewed by a tall girl

Netflix just came out with a movie called Tall Girl. Guess what it’s about?

Sixteen-year-old, six foot one, “misunderstood” student Jodi is trying to get through high school, despite intense bullying due to her height. The movie wasn’t that good, but that’s not why I’m here.

For context, I’m six feet tall.

Life has consisted of my parents explaining that I really was five years old, despite being almost a foot and a half taller than my peers. I was the tallest in my class until high school, and – you guessed it – I did play volleyball and basketball. Being tall is the biggest and most obvious part of my physical identity. Quite like the movie depicts with Jodi, my height is usually the first thing someone notices about me.

If you’re a tall girl, then you know exactly what I mean. Growing up in a society where women are taught to take up less space, be “dainty” and “cute,” can be difficult when you are basically making out with your knees on every bus, train, or airplane.

Just like Jodi, I used to want to shrink. Actually, a lot of the thoughts and worries she had, I had too. The movie displayed a lot of truths about the experience of tall women, but one thing it very obviously lacked was perspective.

Jodi fits every societal beauty norm. She is straight, lean, white and cis-gender. I guarantee that if this were real life, Jodi would not be bullied or ostracized to feel like an other as she was in this movie. It placed Jodi into a narrative of systemic discrimination, and that’s the problem.

Jodi is not a minority. She’s not even an outcast. She’s a privileged young woman that wants to fit in with her peers – quite like I did. Listen, I get it. I still have trouble feeling confident with my height. Some days I feel like it’s truly all people can see. However, framing Jodi this way is not only inaccurate, but it causes distortion and misunderstanding regarding a larger problem of prejudice.

So, to be clear, I am talking about two very different things. The first thing is my experience with my physical identity and the reality of existing in the world with a larger body. I can speak to this experience being difficult and frustrating. I can speak to being teased, feeling undesirable, and wanting so badly to fit in. The second thing, nonetheless, is very different; and the distinction here is crucial. What Jodi and I cannot directly relate to is being marginalized. This movie blurs that line. It places tall white women into a discussion that we should not lead.

Look, I would love to see more tall women with leading roles on television. Watching someone I can identify with physically on screen makes me feel empowered. This, on some level, speaks to the power of representation. This being said, I think it’s pertinent to note that as a white woman, I am constantly being represented, be it on television, movies, magazines, etc. This representation allows white women to have a range of emotions, personalities, characteristics, and nuances that people of colour, and other marginalized groups lack in film. This movie placed Jodi in a specific box and chalked it up to her height, when in reality, Jodi would not have been consistently influenced by this stigma.

Teen movies and romantic comedies have an impact on how we view the world, especially for women. If Netflix really wanted to make a movie with a tall girl in it, I would have been thrilled, along with 15-year-old me. But by framing it as a negative part of her personality, and not letting her just exist as a tall girl with normal problems, relationships and interactions, it really failed for me.

Instead, they created an oversimplified and erroneous depiction of an issue that is not systemic and is more to do with having trouble finding size 13 women’s shoes.


Photo Source: Netflix


Different sizes lead to a chaotic mindset

From the ages of 10 to 20, nearly every woman I met would comment on my appearance, either praising me or hating me for having a slim figure. As the years went by, such comments were oftentimes followed by orders to eat more, or overt criticism of my “chicken legs.”

As the media became more inclusive, slogans like “REAL women have curves” and “men like something to grab onto” were all over my feed, planting the seeds of my body dysmorphia.

I by no means claim that curvy, busty girls have it easy, and skinny girls are the new victims. I am simply one of the hushed voices sharing my experience. I cannot tell you how many times I tried to share my own bodily insecurities, only to be shut down because “I was lucky enough to have been born with a fast metabolism.”

The thing is, I was never satisfied with my body. I never wanted a thigh-gap, nor for my ribcage to show. The negative comments affected me because I wasn’t at ease in my own skin. I looked up to women like Shakira, Beyonce, and Monica Bellucci; forever wishing for an hourglass figure like theirs. I didn’t like my elongated, skinny legs. I, too, fell for the real woman ideal.

So I did everything I could to try to bulk up, and for the past six years, I have tried every carb-loaded diet I could find to gain as many pounds it would take for me to look curvier. It took me six years to be able to look in the mirror, and be somewhat satisfied with the woman staring back.

Almost a month ago, yours truly spent an insane amount of money at a monetary sinkhole called WINNERS, as a sort of “retail therapy.” Among the many knick-knacks I purchased were two pairs of pants, both different sizes, and both fit me perfectly. One pair was a size 4, the other a size 6, and to add to my confusion, I was walking around in size 8 jeans. I understand a woman’s weight fluctuates between one day and the next, but this was just mind-boggling, and certainly didn’t appease my mind.

Such retail “mishaps,” if we wish to call them, are not uncommon. Every woman I have had the pleasure to converse in such topics with shared the same problem, and the majority of them suffer from severe body image problems.

I would also like to mention that I absolutely do not think such issues are limited to the female population, and acknowledge that men also deal with the same demons.

Earlier this year, 18-year-old Chloe Martin shared a picture of seven pairs of jeans on Twitter, all size 12, looking entirely different, with a caption that reads “Incase you’ve ever wondered why women get so frustrated with our clothing sizes – every pair of jeans pictured, is a size 12.

Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet, a website discussing retailing, business and consumer behavior, told today.com that Martin’s photo is “also indicative of the fashion industry’s pervasive and unhealthy attempts to tell women how their bodies should ideally be proportioned.”

I would like to think that one day, we will all overcome this constant obsession with our figures, and be able to live our lives without this crippling anxiety of fitting into one given size. Unfortunately, all I can do is hope.


Graphic/photo by @sundaeghost/Laurence B.D.


Health professionals attempting to Fight Weight Stigma

For far too long, weight has been used as a health indicator. This inaccurate measurement has irresponsible and widespread repercussions for both physical and mental health.

As our understanding of health and well-being develops, I believe we need to continue to think critically and resist the stigma that bigger bodies do not hold the same value as smaller bodies.

In my opinion, the stigma surrounding weight places healthcare professionals such as dieticians in a difficult position; as research about health care and body image continue to evolve, they are faced with the challenge of misinformation. As experts in this field, they are tasked with redefining wellness, while also dealing with the burden of undoing the incorrect assumptions that exist about weight bias. This in itself could be a full time job.

According to Obesity Canada, weight bias is a negative attitude and view targeted at those who are living in larger bodies. This bias seeps into every crevice of society, distorting our perception of health and beauty. According to ABC news, the stigma on larger bodies creates distain and impatience from society.

“Doctors have shorter appointments with fat patients and show less emotional rapport in the minutes they do have,” said Michael Hobbes in an article for the Huffington Post.

There is an implication that weight is a choice, and thinness equals health. We know that weight loss and health are not that simple. This misconception speaks to a systemic issue of idolizing smaller bodies and dehumanizing those in larger ones.

Bianca Santaromita-Villa, a Dietitian working in Ontario, explains that her job is often misconstrued as “diet police.” Santaromita-Villa says that the goal for her practice, as a health-at-every-size professional, has nothing to do with dieting. She helps support her clients by ensuring they are getting the nutrients they need on an individual basis.

Through her experience, Santaromita-Villa has learned that the topic of body image and weight is emotional for a client. Some health care professionals simply focus on weight when it comes to health advice. Santaromita-Villa explains that this approach reinforces the weight stigma, and evidence shows that it is damaging for a client’s health, psychologically and socially.
Santaromita-Villa uses the example of a patient with knee pain. If a doctor simply tells a patient to lose weight, it frustrates them, and will likely result in them blaming themselves for their situation.

Alternatively, Santaromita-Villa explains, this same patient could have arthritis, which could be unrelated to losing weight, contrary to the doctor’s oversimplification.

Weight is not a health indicator. There are many factors that influence weight, and to project a conclusive health analysis using weight is deceptive and irresponsible. Santaromita-Villa explains, “someone in a larger body could be consuming the exact same thing as someone in a smaller body, doing the same exercises, and they are still going to live in that larger body.”

Moving away from using weight as a measurement of success, one of the strategies Santaromita-Villa uses is to provide the client with “modifiable factors.” These are tangible factors that the client can use to track their progress. For example, they could measure their simple sugar intake using the amount of pop they drink, and track their consumption over a two month period.

She explains that these “modifiable factors” allow the client to measure their progress with elements that they can control. “Weight can go where it wants to go, sometimes it’s in our control, sometimes it’s not.”

For every weight loss ad, juice cleanse, and photoshopped beauty magazine, there’s a healthcare expert trying their best to push an agenda of healthy and sustainable living, by removing the element of weight. Santaromita-Villa says that the shift toward a healthier concept of wellness starts with small changes and informing ourselves on how these misconceptions are dangerous not only to our bodies, but our self worth as well.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


We need a detox from these God-awful tea ads


TW: dieting, weight, body image

How staying connected on social media can lead us to adopt unhealthy lifestyles

Kylie Jenner is not my best friend. She isn’t even an acquaintance. I have a closer relationship with the Pharmaprix cashier down the street than with Ms. Jenner. So why would I consider regularly chugging liters of magic weight loss tea that she poses with on Instagram?

Every new year, the most telling reason why buying weight loss tea (hot water with leaves in it for an added wet wood flavour) is so popular rears its ugly head. When observing trends through Google, we can see that in every January, the searches for “detox tea” or “detoxing” spike like the bout of nausea coming from getting up too fast after a feast. The new year rolls in and we collectively lose our mind imagining how much Christmas food has ruined us––and an easy fix is needed.

Dozens of health clinics, medical institutions and even government health agencies have addressed the detox craze with the kind of skepticism even flat-earthers haven’t mastered yet. The Cleveland Health Clinic, a hospital located in Northeast Ohio, published an article on the myths related to detox teas in which the chief branding statement that they are healthier, better and more effective for weight loss than other types of tea is debunked immediately. They do not offer more health benefits than your generic green or black tea would. And the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health agrees that diets relying heavily on “detoxing” include very low-caloric intakes. This can lead to rapid weight loss, but it isn’t sustainable long-term. It could also cause dangerous levels of dehydration. So why am I still strangely attracted to this Ponzi Scheme?

It isn’t surprising why young women, like myself, who spend a huge chunk of their free time on social media, get hypnotized by the online aroma of the detox tea industry. The current digital space we interact with has broken down personalization and the idea of closeness to tiny specks of crushed dust, turning them into cute packaged satchels of drainable financial exploitation ready to destroy our colons. But it’s also making it impossible not to feel close to those we follow––especially celebrities.

Kylie Jenner is not our best friend, but following her on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat sure makes us feel like part of her life––part of her daily routine. Any marketing executive worth their gross, exploitative, slimy salt has now recognized the value of using social media stars’s influence to sell their products, free of all the artifice that well-produced and mass-marketed advertisements represent. And I’m not here to offer a solution to these methods of advertising to extremely impressionable audiences. I have exited this wild road through the online detox industry with more questions than answers.

I am increasingly worried about the effect of being so connected to people on social media who have such a large influence on our lives. It isn’t just the detox tea; it’s make-up, appliances, electronics, skin care and much more. Our social media feeds us a steady diet of friendly “non-advertising,” a predatory scheme meant to disguise its true nature behind capitalizing on a celebrity’s connectivity to their followers. Although influencers must indicate when their posts are sponsored or containing content that explicitly advertises something, the fact that Instagram is, by its inception, an image-only platform, with captions serving as footnotes to one’s picture, the little #ad at the bottom of a celebrity’s caption isn’t as transparent and effective as Instagram thinks it is.

Influencer ads should scare us more than ever. This detox tea craze can, for all that its marketing tries, lie about its intentions to help women become healthier through a natural process, but it is absolutely impossible to hide the truth from being said out loud: our generation is starving itself and these prettily-packaged products are just fueling unrealistic standards of beauty. I’ll tell you right now, those testimonials will not be found on the main page of FitTea or any of its influencer posts.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin

Student Life

Roxane Gay on body image, the #MeToo movement and contemporary feminism

‘This reckoning has been a long time coming’

Professor Roxane Gay delivered The Beatty Memorial Lecture at McGill University on Thursday, Oct. 11. Gay is an internationally acclaimed cultural critic and author the short stories Ayiti and Difficult Women, as well as Bad Feminist, which the The New York Times deemed to be “a manual on how to be human.”

A McGill tradition since 1952, The Beatty Memorial Lecture series annually hosts some of the greatest minds from around the globe. According to The McGill Tribune, the 2017 lecturer was famous philosopher Charles Taylor. Faculty members, students, academics and patrons from all walks of life engage in a public conversation and openly share ideas.
Gay was at Le James McGill bookstore for an hour and a half signing books before the lecture, with more than 600 people waiting for her in front of Pollack Hall. About 200 people tuned in to the live stream that was made available on YouTube.

After Nantali Indongo, the event’s moderator, introduced the lecture, she invited Gay to join her on stage. Gay began by reading pages from Hunger: A Memoir of Body, which spoke about her relationship with her body and weight. An article by Laura Snapes in The Guardian explained that Gay’s memoir “deals with [her] rape at the age of 12 and the lifelong consequences of her decision to make her body as big as possible as a form of self-protection.” @McGill_VPRI tweeted a quote by Gay: “I don’t have all the answers. I just write truthfully about the body that I have, in a world that is often hostile.”

Gay proceeded to speak about the #MeToo movement, Harvey Weinstein, Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Cosby, and the percentage of women who voted for Trump—all significant events of this past year. Twitter user @barbirite shared another quote by Gay: “53 per cent of white women voted for Trump. And I’m gonna say that over and over and over again because it’s a horrifying statistic, because they’re voting their own rights away.”

“Justice felt like a real, tangible thing rather than a vague, illusory ideal. This reckoning has been a long time coming,” Gay said. Victims of sexual violence and sexual harassment continue to await justice, she added, proving that she is more of a realist than an optimist. “Hope is too ephemeral, too inconsistent, too fleeting. This is a brutal time […] Every day there is new information about men who have abused their position or acted inappropriately or committed crimes against women.”

@McGill_VPRI shared a final quote from Gay: “I am often asked to describe #Feminism and I don’t answer that question anymore, because honestly it’s 2018. How can you not know?”

Student Life

Broken Pencil: Tales from the stall walls

Sneak a peek inside ConU’s washroom stall graffiti subculture

Confession: reading the messages and looking at the rushed art on the stalls in the women’s washrooms across campus is a guilty pleasure of mine—at least it used to be. A little investigative journalism venture in preparation for this article led me to realize how much of the graffiti I’ve been reading since first year has been covered up. Most of the current comments—or “tags,” if you will—I’ve found are in the women’s washrooms on the ground floors of the LB and EV buildings, plus a single, lonely and forgotten anti-Trump doodle in the H building.

First off, to the pair who, likely separately, tag-team wrote: “In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act … and loving yourself is a REVOLUTION,” in the first stall on the left side of the EV building washroom: thank you. And to whoever wrote: “❤️❤️❤️❤️for the [person] reading this” in the third stall of the LB washroom: ❤️for you too.

While some may view these empowering tags as vandalism, for others, they can be that extra push you need to make it through the day. (Think The Handmaid’s Tale when Elisabeth Moss’s character is locked in her bedroom and sees the phrase about perseverance carved into the baseboards of her closet by a previous handmaid—but the struggling student version).

The stalls also house a variety of art, life advice and stickers. In the fifth stall of the LB building washrooms, there are two Sharpie sketches of people—one with longer hair and the other with what appears to be a hijab on; the sketch is headlined with: “Everyone has their own beauty❤️.” The same stall also has a tag that reads “Work is long when you’re wearing a thong.” Found in some stalls are also the thoughts we dare not say aloud. One person writes: “I’m an attention addict, but I don’t show it,” while another person confesses: “I’m constipated.” The mixture of subconscious confessions, with body positive support and comedic anecdotes that all corroborate the nuanced experience of life is raw and refreshing to read.

Many tags have humourous undertones of solidarity, particularly with comments like “BLOODY FEMININITY,” written on the lid of the menstrual product disposal box in the last stall on the right-hand side of the EV building washrooms. “You are enough,” is written in the second stall of the LB building facilities. For me, reading messages like these warms my heart.

When having a bad day, week, month or whatever, reading an honest tag about something similar, a funny anecdote or even just reading that someone else is also not okay, is oddly comforting. The one, unifying theme found in all the stalls is the need for solidarity and support between women, female-identifying, and non-binary people. Whoever wrote: “To all my sisters, we need to love each other and be there. Stop bitchin’,” in the second stall of the LB building washrooms—you know what’s up.

Note: The Concordian recognizes that the graffiti and art mentioned in this article likely violate vandalism policies at Concordia University, and we are by no means encouraging anyone to go out and start attacking washroom stalls with writing utensils (wink).

Feature graphic by @spooky_soda.

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