Name: Ameara MClennan        
Age: 27
City: Toronto/NYC
Occupation: Art Therapist, Intuitive Healer 

Photo Credit: Eric from Green Bag photography

Photo Credit: Eric from Green Bag photography

Please describe how YOU see your body in general, when you look in the mirror. 

I don’t feel like my mirror reflection does my spirit and myself justice. I am really hard on myself, from my acne to my weight, etc. But the parts I LOVE I spend a lot of time on. I love my eyes and if I don't put a whole face of makeup on, I make sure to spend time on my eyes. I love my boobs, because I know ladies who are not as blessed as I, and I should be grateful for what I was given. 
My overall opinion comes from not comparing myself to others, but comparing myself to my best self. What did I feel like? Was I healthy? Was I active? What did I eat? All of those things are vital in loving your body. Your body is not your weight, your body is not a number on a scale. It is how you feel. How you adorn yourself, how you take care of yourself. All of this SHOULD be how you see your body. 
On a good day I go biking, I take a long shower, I meditate, I feel fantastic. 
On a bad day I am bloated, I ate too much dairy, I feel sluggish and slow and I don't leave my couch. We are human and fallible; we must be patient with ourselves and try to maintain balance. 

What do you consider beauty to mean? What is beautiful to you?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, meaning yourself. If you don't see yourself as beautiful, the world wont either. Take time for you, take care of yourself, take long showers, shave your legs, make sure you do all the self-care stuff we neglect when we get busy. WE ARE WORTH IT. WE ARE NOT VAIN. We have to feel beautiful ourselves! Beauty is self-awareness, not shallow confidence, or anxiety, it is standing tall being confident in yourself flaws and all. That is beauty. 

What does a healthy body image mean to you and what are your body image goals?

Healthy body image is so hard. We are bombarded by negative images by the media and sometimes it's hard to find who you are under all of the people yelling "You aren't good enough, you must do _____." 
My body image is a work in progress, it is a conscious effort to take care of myself everyday. It is loving myself despite the flaws and rocking the curves I've got. I need to achieve this by balance, it isn't from the personal trainer or working out everyday day for hours. It isn't the cutting sugar and carbs from my diet. It is being conscious of my activity, biking and walking everywhere, being active, doing things instead of watching things. It is loving the taste of food, of cooking and of growing your own food. It is the pleasure in making a salad yourself that tastes amazing. It is SLOWING DOWN! Don’t grab the fast food, make time to eat right, make time for myself, that's key.  Adriene Mishler from Yoga with Adriene is a BIG influence on finding what feels good and enjoying your life. HUGE inspiration. 

Can you talk about a time in your life where you felt body confident? When you didn’t? What shaped your feelings?

I felt body confident three years ago, visiting NYC in the summer doing modeling, and loving my body. But looking back I barely ate, was really thin and really tired all the time. I was confident in my body but not myself. It took a long time before I could receive compliments from others about my body. Still my friends tease me that I have nothing to worry about, and I am gorgeous. But I still carry a shame in my figure, its hard to shake when we live in our society. Negative comments get to me and persist for years and it takes a lot to shake that off. Especially when they are coming from family, and the people who are supposed to be there for you. They hurt the worst. 

Have you had issues or challenges with clothing in regard to body image?

YES! I cannot find clothes that fit, my breasts are a D and my waist is a small and my hips are a large. My curves fit nothing and I find that making my own clothes is where I found my style. I also have to alter everything, take in the sides to add shape etc. I don't use clothes to hide my figure at all, but finding ones that accentuate the right things and not the wrong things is difficult. I like heels, I like slim fitting pants, and jeans etc. I love dresses but it's hard to find the right shapes. So I basically make clothes. Find my clothing line at Gypsy Rebel Queens

Does your body image affect how you eat?

I suffered from anorexia. My best friend and I suffer a lot with eating issues. I have learnt I cannot restrict anything or I stop eating. I cannot place restrictions on my diet. I just have to eat healthy and in moderation, though I could live off tomatoes and cucumbers. So my eating habits tend to be on the healthy soup and salad type. 

When do you feel best? 

When I have had a great night sleep, time in the morning to shower and take care of me, wearing a great outfit, and being ready for my day. 

How has your body image changed over time? 

It has improved tremendously, I used to be really hard on myself and I am better now. I am not perfect, no one is, and that is the lesson in and of itself. There is no such thing as perfect there is only you, and do you feel good being you?

Who do you feel influences your body image most? 

My friends, I have some hot ass female friends who are performers, models, amazing women. Sometimes they influence for the better but sometimes I try to compare myself to them and realize I am never going to be them and I don't need to be. I just need to be me. 

What pressure around body image do you feel? 

Lose weight all the time, be a gym bunny, do all the yoga, be active 24/7 and be super healthy because everyone else on social media looks like they are doing that all the time! 

What are your thoughts on media/advertising/social media and how they affect body image?

Social media is harming us in profound ways, our kids are basing their self-worth on a number of "likes" they get. We are not being seen as valuable human beings for what we do anymore, it's only if people appreciate it. It is tearing down your self-worth. We are worth it, even if Facebook and Instagram don't see it. YOU ARE WORTH MORE than a couple of clicks on a screen. Social media is great but it can be a slippery slope. I know I matter by what I do in the world, not by how many people click "like" on what I do in the world. 

How do you feel about altering appearance through cosmetic surgery and applications like Photoshop?

Contentious issue, I know a lot of people who have had surgery. I think for them it's great, I mean if that's what makes you confident. But what worries me is that we aren't really loving ourselves, we are consistently trying to change ourselves. I love the idea of having the body you want, but make sure it's not just the body you love, make sure you love yourself on the inside too. 

Do you have any advice/tips/suggestions for other women who would like to improve their body image?

Reading books, getting out into the world doing what you love so much that you forget looks even matter. Because we are worth it, what we do everyday is worth it. We don't have to always be ON we can just be US and that is ok. 

All photos by Eric from Green Bag Photography

All photos by Eric from Green Bag Photography