Out in the Open

Loving your body means hating it sometimes

Jill Andrew has had a complicated relationship with her body. She’s had moments of hating it for its size and because it has let her down.
Jill Andrew is the co-founder of Body Confidence Canada. (Courtesy of Jill Andrew)

Even as a child, Jill Andrew remembers comments about her size, like being told to 'hold in her tummy' for family pictures. 

At various times, she's hated her body for being considered large. She's also hated it for being sick.

"[D]ealing with a sick body...it's a taboo topic. There's stigma. There's embarrassment to simply say, 'Hey, I'm living with an illness.' Or, 'Hey, I'm living in a sick body,' says Jill.

"It seems that somehow that means you're inferior or you're weak." 

Jill suffers from chronic abdominal issues that resulted in a severe bowel obstruction. It disrupts your digestion, anyone can get it, no matter your size, and it can be life threatening.

Last year, Jill underwent emergency surgery because of the bowel obstruction. Since then, she's had to completely change her relationship with food in what she describes as a restrictive, unhealthy way. She has to be really strict about what she eats and can mainly just consume liquids.

As co-founder of Body Confidence Canada, Jill spends a lot of time promoting body positivity.

She says this latest health crisis taught her that loving your body can sometimes mean being honest about those moments when you hate it.

Jill also says that time in her life increased her resolve to fight for body acceptance.

"I am determined not to be silenced or not to be seen as invisible because of my size, or because of my weight, or because of my race, or my gender...because I deserve to be here. That's the reality. Had things gone differently for me last year, we wouldn't be here talking," she says. 

"It's energized me to do what I can to ensure that we can all live in an environment where we feel safe in our skin."

This story originally aired on January 7, 2018. It appears in the Out in the Open episode "Cut Through Hate".