NOW Toronto Features Tattooed People In A Body Diversity Shoot
Canadian magazine, NOW Toronto chose a few tattooed people to appear in their second annual Body Issue to represent body diversity.
Anything that has to do with body positive movement and the way it presents individuals as widely diverse beings deserves to get attention. Let's be grateful for features like these that highlight the tattooed body as something we aren't supposed to look down on or change our perspective on anybody who has them.
NOW Toronto handpicks twelve individuals to share their stories and pose confidently, imparting a part of themselves for the Canadian magazine's annual body issue.
Kim Katrin Milan and Tiq Milan – journalists, artists, activists
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“I wanted to challenge myself, to put myself in a position as a transgender person to show my body and be in my skin publicly, to put myself in that space and learn to love my body more,” says Tiq.
“Our love and our relationship is part of our advocacy. There isn't a lot of diverse representation of black queer couples loving each other and celebrating each others' bodies and beauty. We want to give an example to our communities,” explains Kim.
Chiamaka Umeh, Esther Jun, and Rebecca Perry – actors
“In my teens, I started to educate myself, and now I don't believe humans are supposed to be isolated from one another. In theatre school, I started to unlearn the behaviours that inhibit our natural instinct to connect. This shoot helped me face the fear that was instilled in me about freeing myself from inhibition,” shares Chiamaka.
Bo Hedges – co-captain of Canada's wheelchair basketball team
“I hope I'm bridging the gap and helping them understand the capabilities of people with disabilities. My hope is that people will think, ‘If this person with a disability can perform at such an elite level on the court, why can't those with disabilities perform the tasks of daily life just like everyone else?’”
Katie Sly – performer, playwright, visual artist, producer of Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret
“I feel like I push myself to certain lengths with my body and exposure. I've been abused quite a lot, so I feel that extreme exhibitionism of my body, or exhibitionism in terms of talking publicly about my physical experience, is an act of reclamation.”
Adam Benn – coordinator of Black Queer Youth (BQY), Essence and Get Out, all at Sherbourne Health Centre; owner, Body by Benn Fitness
“I work with LGBTQ youth 29 and under through three programs at the Sherbourne Health Centre. At BQY, we talk about the experience of being black and queer in Toronto, which is unique. I also run a group called Get Out, which takes kids to do outdoor activities like rock climbing, camping and canoeing. We try to avoid doing things that are competitive; the only person you have to challenge is yourself. I also run Essence, a spiritual group. A lot of youth are disconnected from communities of faith because their faith rejects their LGBTQ identity,” shares Adam.
“Being active and programs like Get Out are especially important for LGBTQ youth because they historically don't have high activity rates. They often avoid recreational spaces because of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, and they also don't have positive memories of going to camp. It's about creating positive associations with recreation and being outdoors.”
Xica Ducharme – activist, burlesque performer, writer and stewardess
“I started seeing that the body I once hated and the body I now loved was not being respected. The only place that I actually feel safe is on the dance floor. Every time I'm there, people are so accepting and inclusive,” says Xica.
“It doesn't matter how much the world tries to put me down. I will stand on those heels, naked, in front of anyone, holding a fan to cool myself off from all the struggles. Making myself beautiful. Standing tall.”
Akio Maroon – mother and human rights activist
“We're taught to hide our vulnerabilities. But doing a nude shoot, there's nothing to hide behind. All your vulnerabilities, all your insecurities - everything is laid bare,” says a very pregnant Aiko.
“Being pregnant helped. It felt like this mothering experience: here I am, and my body's taking care of a life. And it's presenting that to a world where black women are normally seen as hyper-sexualized.”
Stephen Bowles – drummer
“I started getting my tattoos in Toronto in the late 90s. That was a time when I was getting in touch with my own identity separate from who I'd been growing up. I was self-actualizing the next chapter in my life and embracing how I wanted to look. I've always been drawn to that style and, while tattoos have certainly become more mainstream, they still retain a bit of that outsider culture. I tend to gravitate toward people like myself who are strong-minded and independent, who carve life out in their own fashion. Tattoos happen to be part of that, at least for me,” shares Stephen.
“My tattoos mix aesthetics and deep meaning. I have a tattoo on my arm that's a tribute to Mom, and she doesn't even know about it. But I also got some of them because they look cool. However, I don't subscribe to the idea of inking a slogan on your body that you feel super-deeply about, because in 10 years your mind will likely change.”
Read the rest on nowtoronto.com