I am excited to post the first BODY LOVE NOW photo project that is part of the Love Your Body Summit that will be happening in Port Moody February 6, 2016.  As part of this summit we are putting together a photography project, that will be featured as a slideshow at the event, and may at some point in the future become a book! The BODY LOVE NOW photo project will explore positive body image through changing the focus from how one looks to how they want to feel in their body. Our relationships with our bodies are so often defined from the outside in, and we want to flip the script. Does trampoline jumping bring you joy? Does motorbiking make you feel free? When you walk in nature do you feel at ease? For this project we are asking women to think of the words that describe how they want to feel and then write these words on their bodies to express these feelings in a visual way.

The BODY LOVE NOW photo project has three components:

Part 1. A group of women we have chosen will be photographed doing something they love that makes them feel great in their bodies. These images will also be accompanied by a short interview we had with each women to describe the words they choose to describe how they want to feel in their bodies.

Part 2. Studio Sessions that will be open to the public, where you can come in and have a portrait session using words that describe how you want to feel in your body. More details to follow on the studio sessions.

3. An online component inviting the public to take their own pictures on Instagram using the hashtag #bodylovenow. We hope we can inspire as many women as possible to think about the question we have proposed
and start to see women celebrating their bodies the way they want to feel.

So without further adieu I am excited to present the first in our BODY LOVE NOW series, Joyelle Brandt, who is also the Founder of the Love Your Body Summit.

What challenges have you faced in your relationship with your body?

I can remember a time when I felt totally free in my body. A time when there was no judgement, just pure joy in this human experience of being alive. I have memories of sunny days spent clambering over rocks like a mountain goat, or floating down the Chilliwack river in an endless loop. Jump, splash, swim, climb out, run back, repeat. I remember my first BMX with a great tenderness. It was my first taste of freedom. Bike rides to the corner store, where we traded pop bottles for candy. Riding back, sucking on a lollipop, hands waving in the air. There was no self-conscious anguish about how my body would appear to others. I lived inside my skin with a casual grace and joyful abandon. When I was hungry, I ate. When I was tired I slept. When I felt like dancing, I danced. That joy and freedom was stolen from me when I was 10 years old.

At age 10 I was molested by a teenage foster child my parents had taken in. He didn’t stop at just violating me, he also made me believe I was pregnant and went around town telling everyone that I was a great lay. I became a social pariah at school, and was tormented by hateful catcalls from bullies who had heard about my so-called “reputation”. Thankfully, I grew up before the digital age. I was able to switch to a new school where my reputation had not preceded me, and the torment ended. And then I turned 11.

I remember my father, clearly uncomfortable with my burgeoning sexuality, retreating physically from me. He took to calling me “Busty” that year. I remember boys, trying to fondle those breasts in backyards and behind trees. I could not escape the fact that puberty hit early and hard. My mother passed her own body shame on to me, with pointed comments about my weight gain as I went through the teen years. My body was no longer my own. Wherever I went, people felt free to judge it, to leer at it, and quite often, to grope it. I learned that my body was too much. That I should hide it, because it was something shameful. My body became my enemy.

How has your relationship with your body changed because of those challenges?

I struggled for decades with low self worth, depression, and suicidal thoughts. I felt broken, dirty, ugly and ashamed. But I was really good at hiding all this, so on the outside, even those closest to me never knew just how dark my internal landscape was. For most of my life I was silenced. Silenced by shame and by my fear of my own anger. I felt that no one wanted to hear the ugly truth that was my childhood, and so I suffered alone on the inside while keeping up appearances on the outside.

When my first son was born, I thought I was saved from my darkness. I had found a sense of purpose in my life that had been lacking, and with that purpose a bit of the darkness subsided. For the first time in forever, that little voice inside my head that tormented me gave me a break. Even though motherhood was incredibly hard, I felt a beautiful new freedom from that “Not enough” mantra that had embedded itself in my psyche. But the reprieve turned out to be only temporary. Over time the voice came back, and when my second son was born I spiralled into a brutal post-partum depression. My history of childhood abuse was severely triggered and I could no longer deny the darkness that lived inside me.

As I climbed out of post partum depression, I realized that I was tired of battling with myself. I had gained weight, lost weight, and gained weight again. I had judged my body and judged myself. My whole life was a stream of negative self talk and I was done. I had this simple ah-ha. I just want to feel good. I don’t want to beat myself up any more. I was tired of judging my body and myself for everything that had happened to me.

What words did you choose to describe how you want to feel in your body, and why did you choose them?


Riding my bike reminds me of that first taste of freedom. Having a bike meant that I could go where I wanted to go without relying on someone else to get me there. Riding my bike makes me feel powerful and free. The rush of air as I glide down a hill makes me feel like a kid again.


As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I learned early on that I was not safe inside my body. I have spent a lot of my life feeling afraid and vulnerable. I am so done with that. I want to live fearlessly inside my skin, not constantly looking over my shoulder wondering whether I will be attacked again.


Spinning poi is so much fun! I’m really not very good at it, and I actually enjoy it because of that. I have internalized so much perfectionism. This is one area of my life that I allow myself to be bad at something and have fun doing it anyway. Practicing one simple movement at a time is a form of meditation for me, and as I spin I find a zen state that frees me from my usual state of hamster wheel brain!

Body Love Now | Joyelle
Body Love Now | Joyelle

What advice would you give to your younger self about body image?

Buddha said that “you can search the whole universe and not find one single being more worthy of love than yourself.” That quote sums up what I wish I could say to my younger self.

I spent so much time hating my body while preaching kidness to others. I wish I had realized that kindness has to start with yourself. I would tell my younger self that I am stronger than I think, and more beautiful than I know. And to speak kindly to myself, because I am worthy of love.

Body Love Now | Joyelle
Body Love Now | Joyelle
Body Love Now | Joyelle
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