In today's society, the concept of the female body image is one that women and girls all around the world struggle with. Many body types seem unattainable thanks to photoshop editing that we see in magazines and online every day.
For Peterborough's Sara Lunn, the thought of taking a series of boudoir photos with local photographer Stephanie Hayes for the public to see was nerve-wracking. Steph had put the word out she was looking for women to photograph for a boudoir shoot for her online portfolio, and Sara initially jumped at the chance but soon had second thoughts.
"I sat there and stewed about it for a long time," she writes in a blog entry on Steph's site. "I wanted to work with her, but I was torn. One half of me totally wanted to be that girl who looked amazing, fun, and flirty. The other half of me kindly reminded myself that I would have to hide most of my body and there was no way I would be fully comfortable. Surely she would find someone better suited for it (whatever that meant)."
"I have struggled with loving myself for my whole life," adds Sara. "I am not comfortable in my own skin. I can’t remember a time when I was ever comfortable. I have an amazing partner [Ian George, her fiancé] who makes me feel like I am the most beautiful creature on the planet. He also reminds me that no one is perfect and that he loves me because of my imperfections; it’s what makes me who I am."
After trying to think of excuses to back out, Sara ultimately decided to take a leap of faith and go ahead with the shoot.
"When I arrived for the shoot, I met two other women, and as it turned out, we were all incredibly nervous. It was awesome to sit and chat about what our concerns were before the shoot, how we have dealt with our insecurities and what we all hoped to take away that night. It was really great meeting people in totally different places in their lives, but, we all shared similar concerns and fears."
"I was the last one to be photographed and I must admit, it was an absolute blast and would do it a million more times," Sara writes. "Steph made me feel so comfortable and to be honest, I think I was laughing for most of it (when I wasn’t trying to be serious)."
"When I look at my pictures I am blown away. The first picture I saw, I actually squealed out loud and jumped up and down. That is me! Holy crap! I feel beautiful and sexy and most of all – confident and comfortable. That’s all I ever wanted. So to Steph, I say thank you. Thank you for capturing me in a light I never knew existed. It’s wonderful."
"I didn't do this for my fiancé Ian, I did it for myself," Sara tells PTBOCanada. "I did it because I knew it was outside of my comfort zone and I knew Steph wanted to use the photos for her portfolio so I knew more people would see them other than just Ian and myself."
Kudos for Sara for being courageous enough to do this. The photos are beautiful.
View more photos from the shoot here.
—by Aaron Elliott
You know how you hear about this person or that person being super cool, and someone you ought to meet? Well here are a few amazing women in Peterborough and the Kawarthas we've compiled. If you ever get the chance to have coffee with them, don't pass it up. In no particular order, here we go...
1. Peggy Shaughnessy
For starters, Peggy is the owner of the legendary Whistle Stop at the corner of George & Charlotte—which has some of the best poutine (and conversation) you'll find anywhere on the planet. But much more than that, Peggy is an angel to the less fortunate in society—or those just struggling in their day to day lives. She is a tireless crusader who helps people who come in off the street looking for help or through her mental health Redpath programs she runs across Canada. She is also one of the funniest people you'll ever meet, a great storyteller—and an even greater listener.
2. Maryam Monsef
Maryam is the current Federal Liberal candidate for Peterborough [UPDATE: and now MP] and was a close runner-up in the Peterborough mayoral race last fall. Politics aside, she has an infectious energy and attitude toward life. She believes anyone—regardless of age, race, gender or experience—can change the world through courage, passion, conviction and knowledge. She's living proof of that. She also totally loves Peterborough—it saved her life—and knows that everyone has a story to share, and that anyone can make a difference.
3. Sofie Andreou
Sofie is known for her passion of leveraging the power of online marketing—speaking and training people in Peterborough and far beyond. But she is also a community ambassador, with her countless roles with supporting local charities and business initiatives and economic development. This entrepreneur has instrumental roles with Women's Business Network (WBN) and the Bears' Lair Entrepreneurial Competition. She's also witty, supportive and helpful to all—a great sounding board. A true community builder.
4. Leslie Bradford-Scott
On a cash crop farm in Bailieboro, Leslie has the makings of a global empire with her funky gift products for men and women put out by her company Walton Wood Farm. Leslie has written award-winning screenplays but one could also write a screenplay about her own life—see her quirky "Owner's Story" here. She sees the great comedy in life's situations, which is reflected in her hilarious display copy and fresh approach on her Walton Wood products. Her story is one of perseverance, fortitude—and humour—and it's no wonder her business is taking off. If you meet her, you'll see why she has all the right ingredients to succeed. And she'll likely share some great nuggets of wisdom with you.
5. Kate Wells
Kate is a passionate autism advocate—often live tweeting the daily ups and downs of living with a child of autism. Kate is remarkably transparent about the huge extremes of dealing with her teenage autistic son Aidan, giving us a raw look into the impact it has on her family and mental health. But Kate's attitude is amazing through the highs and lows, and if you meet her in real life you'll see why. She's smart, funny, self-deprecating and insightful all at once. And she could care less about being judged. She owns her own life. Oh, and she is also a great writer who one day we'd like to see write a book about living with autism—an extended version of her Twitter handle.
6. Cindy Crowley
Cindy co-owns Ricky’s All Day Grill with her husband Dave. She makes comfort food there, but also is comfort food. When you meet Cindy, you feel like you've known her forever—like re-connecting with a long-lost friend or family member. Cindy is a life-long resident of Peterborough and is supportive of all things that build community. Say hi to her next time you're at Ricky's and see you'll see what we mean.
7. Kemi Akapo
Kemi has the best smile in Peterborough—but that's just the beginning. A passionate community advocate and social activist, Kemi is Settlement Services Coordinator at New Canadians Centre—and earlier this year was an NGO delegate at United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, attending as a representative of the YWCA. She also has a great radio voice—and is a terrific interviewer—hosting a People of Peterborough show on Trent Radio. Meet her if you can.
8. Anne Arnold
The former Director of Business Development at The Venue, Anne is also a wife, mom, nana, volunteer and passionate community ambassador. She's been involved with many organizations and charities over the years, including International Dragon Boat Festival, Habitat for Humanity Women Build Committee, Easter Seals Telethon Committee, Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life and more. She can offer great wisdom and advice based on her years of experience in business and volunteering. Oh, and she once took Bobby Orr waterskiing in Parry Sound. But we'll let her tell you about that.
Peterborough's STRUTT Central has launched an "Unmask the silence" campaign to raise awareness about the number of Indigenous women who are going missing and being murdered at a much higher rate than other women in Canada—a rate so high it constitutes nothing less than a national human rights crisis.
STRUTT's program was undertaken with young girls from the Cree Nation of Wemindji to spread awareness on this crisis. The impactful photographs below (and above) from the series were taken by Paisley Spence Photography. The campaign was directed by Christina Abbott, who tells us the backstory for how it came together in this photo essay below...
Christina Abbott... "I was working with Mickey Decarlo, a First Nations Woman in our community, and her group of young Cree women. Mickey serves as a mental health worker at the Cree Nation of Wemindji Wellness and Culture Program. She meets with the girls individually every week to discuss issues concerning them over lunch."
Abbott... "Mickey, who lives in Peterborough, brings the girls from Wemindji to Peterborough at least once a year, and arranges fun and meaningful activities for them while they're here in town. Amnesty international states that: 'Indigenous women are going missing and being murdered at a much higher rate than other women in Canada—a rate so high it constitutes nothing less than a national human rights crisis.' As a First Nations woman, Mickey sought to educate the girls on the seriousness of this crisis by challenging them to picture the effects of similar tragedies on their family and/or loved ones."
Abbott... "Together, we decided to make an awareness campaign as so many, including myself, have gone years without knowledge of the extent or severity of the crisis affecting Aboriginal women. By asking the girls to act as models in campaign photos showcasing facts and figures on the crisis, we endeavoured to educate them on the dangers they may face, as well as spreading awareness beyond their community."
Abbott... "The butterfly is the national symbol behind the struggle to combat this crisis; it represents the individual beauty of each woman that is missing. In our images, the butterfly mask being removed symbolizes the unmasking of the cold hard facts that we all need to face together. We want Canadians to see the plight of these women as though they were our sisters."
View more photos in the striking series below...
You can view the entire photo essay here on the campaign. (Hair and Makeup by STRUTT Beauty's Jasher Guiel, Carolyn Abbott, Brandy Aston, Jacqueline Hoss, Christina Abbott. Creative Direction by Christina Abbott. Research facts by Camellia Shaw.)
Please spread the word about this campaign on your social media channels.
A inspiring, empowering new homegrown campaign, Just Beyou.tiful, has begun to encourage and promote inner beauty and self confidence in young girls, teenagers and women. "Beauty is not about looks. It is about having a kind soul," their campaign states. This is a photographic campaign where females are being encouraged to share pictures of themselves on the page wearing no makeup and no filter selfies to "symbolize women embracing thir inner beauty and celebrating what makes them a beYOUtiful soul." This should start to catch on way beyond Peterborough. Check out the Facebook page here, and below are just a few of the pictures posted to their page already. On social media, use the hashtag #justBEYOUtiful.
More here about the campaign in this YouTube video...