Social media has changed the way we live our lives, receive information, and even shop.
For others, it’s a way to connect with like-minded individuals. When we first came across Kayla Logan, she seemed like a beautiful, body-positive advocate like so many others we had come across the social channels. Once we started to spend more time following her we realized how open she was about her journey and present-day life. There were definitely no pretenses, we were watching her go through the ups and downs all in real-time without any filters. When she learned something, we did as well and this is why we are so excited to feature Kayla on our cover.
Let’s start from the very beginning. Can you share your journey to “self-love”?
I started my journey as a weight-loss campaign. I had gained 100lbs over the course of a few years and I remember telling a family member that “I would rather be dead than be fat and alive!”
That’s obviously not the case now, but at the time I was so depressed and I believed that being thin would make me happy again so I signed up for a well-known diet program and started sharing my authentic weight loss journey.
At this point, I decided that I would pose at iconic and everyday spots in my underwear during my weight loss to show that you’re beautiful in every shape and size. After losing 20lbs and posing at the iconic Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia, Canada, I realized that I still didn’t love myself and it didn’t matter what weight I was because I had a bigger issue. I had hated myself at my thinnest and at my heaviest, this issue wasn’t my weight, the issue was my self-love. I needed to quit the diet and learn self-love. I also couldn’t rightfully promote loving myself at every shape and size when I in fact didn’t believe that. I did the most terrifying thing I could think of, I quit the diet program and quit diet culture!
I’ve been on that self-love journey for over 2 years now and I decided that in order to show women and myself that we’re all beautiful regardless of size, I pose in public in my underwear around the world at iconic locations. I say now that it took me gaining 100 lbs to learn to love myself! I use my social media to promote these messages along with my authentic struggles. There are no smoke and mirrors on my Instagram.
You describe yourself as a ‘Body Love & Mental Health’ advocate. Can you talk about the ways in which you connect with people looking for help, information, and inspiration?
I’m 32 years old, and I grew up in a time where mental health wasn’t discussed, it was to be hidden. It was something to be ashamed of, something that was swept under the rug. I actually just thought I was sick, broken, and didn’t know what was truly wrong with me. My first symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks started at the age of 14 years old, it wasn’t until I was 19 yrs old in my first year at university that I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder that affects my systematic nervous system accompanied by panic attacks. I was still ashamed and felt so alone. It wasn’t until 4 years ago that I openly started speaking about my mental health publicly, and I did this because I was tired of the stigma and isolation around mental health. It’s the silent killer.
I was tired of having to hide behind a mask of this happy put-together bubbly girl who was secretly struggling to get out of bed every day. I wanted people to know they’re not alone, to normalize seeing what mental health actually looks like, not just to start a conversation around it and not to only show the good days. I show up for my followers by showing how real mental health can get, how some days you can’t get out of bed, how sometimes you don’t shower for a week and you live in a mess because you don’t have the energy to function. I show my followers that it’s ok to not be ok. I also share with them that I see them for who they truly are without judgment and I’m here for them. I think just showing people visually the reality of mental health makes them feel seen. I also share my therapy journey very openly along with the skills I am learning such as Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), tools for self-care, resources for sliding-scale mental health, and eating disorder resources. I share lots of infographics and information about mental health from therapists and I also share free resources that I find and that others share with me.
Something beautiful is that I am always here to listen and sometimes that’s all people need.
I describe myself as a body love advocate because I wanted to be more inclusive so people of all shapes and sizes know that they’re welcome on this platform, that they’re valid, that I will honor them, hold space for them, and respect them. We all struggle with body image and I want to provide a safe space where we can have these challenging conversations and also celebrate our bodies. I connect visually with my audience by sharing my body insecurities, I share my cellulite, my stretch marks, I show them, I dance around, I jiggle it all because I want to show that this is normal and to be celebrated not hidden. I want to show people that if I can embrace my body then so can they. I pose at iconic locations in my underwear because if I can literally strip down to my underwear in public then you can wear that tee-shirt out this summer, you can wear that bathing suit! You can do it! It also creates media representation and that’s something we don’t have enough of when it comes to plus-size bodies so it’s important. It also starts a conversation for people to share their experiences with body image. Other ways I help people with body love is by sharing resources such as books I’m reading, educating about the body-positive movement, fat liberation, doing group photoshoots, sharing other content creators, and connecting people with the resources they may need.
It seems like we all have our own personal definition of “Body Positivity”. Most recently an article came out where the term “Body Neutrality” seems to be where some people are leaning. What does Body Neutrality mean and what, if any, is the difference between both terms?
I’d like to first start by explaining what body positivity is because I believe there is a misunderstanding of its original intention. Today body positivity has become co-opted by thin white women to say that all bodies are beautiful and people deserve to have a positive body image. This is the mainstream waterdown approach to body positivity. In this form, people believe that body positivity stems from loving your body and gaining self-confidence.
This is actually not what body positivity is, at its core body positivity comes out of the fat liberation movement and was created by black fat femmes for them and people in marginalized bodies as a social justice movement in the 1960s. Its core premise was to protest discrimination and lack of access to create equal opportunities for fat people in all areas of life including, employment, school, fashion, media, and health care.
Body neutrality is a more encompassing term than body positivity. I believe it’s the goal of self-love where we get to a point where we stop putting so much focus and attention on our bodies and just allow them to exist. Body neutrality is that you have a body, it is there and that is it! You don’t put too much thought into it, it doesn’t hold a ton of power over you. You can be thankful for what your body does for you and that is the extent of it. You don’t have to love your body to be a part of the movement, you can just accept your body for what it is, a body. There is no criteria for who can take part in this movement, therefore it doesn’t matter what size or shape you are, it doesn’t matter what gender you are, what ability you are, all people are welcome in the body neutrality movement and it is the way of the future.
Let’s switch gears a little bit. I LOVE that YOU love fashion and have so much fun with it. How would you describe your personal aesthetic?
I would describe my personal fashion aesthetic as casual-chic style, although I really admire cottage cores, artsy and dark academia a lot. I have my online fashion persona and she loves really feminine details, lots of bold colors, florals, prints, sparkles, accessories and it’s a lot of fun to just play and use fashion to express myself. When I gained the weight and became plus-size at first I wanted to hide my body under the same uniform of track pants and baggy sweaters, I wanted to be invisible. I’ve reclaimed my power and my body, it feels good to be my bold, vibrant, and outgoing self again. I love sequins and just experimenting with new trends and not limiting myself because I am plus size. In my everyday life, my fashion is a lot different, it’s a lot more casual. I like to be super cozy and I am really enjoying sustainable fashion right now. I find the fabrics are high quality and feel like butter on my skin which is wonderful when working from home. Right now when I’m not shooting content it’s all about comfort.
“Size-Inclusive” seems to be another “hot topic” term. Do you feel like the plus-size fashion industry is doing better at extending their sizes? In an ideal world, what would a true “Size-Inclusive” brand and campaign look like in your eyes?
Honestly, I really dislike when companies use the term “inclusive’ because I feel like they’re trying to capitalize on buzzwords and trying to seem like they’re on trend by extending sizes when in reality they’ve only probably added sizing up to a 3X which isn’t inclusive at all. In order to be truly inclusive then you would need to have a size that would fit every body in the entire world, so unless you make custom pieces then this is a grave exaggeration and it’s a sad marketing ploy that the plus-size community does see-through.
I don’t believe that the fashion industry is doing better at extending their sizes. We just saw Loft completely eliminate their plus sizes in the USA and in Canada Additionelle closed all its stores. When you go to look at plus-size options they don’t have the same options as they do for their thinner consumers, they don’t have them at the same pricing and they don’t usually have the same sales for plus-size people that they do for thin people. The options aren’t there. Companies are more than happy to try and appear to be inclusive and use language to facilitate this image, but the models they use are usually straight-size and they really don’t cater to plus-size people.
In order for a brand to be truly size-inclusive, they would have to show larger plus-size people who are above a size 20 and of a diversity of backgrounds. The clothing line would have to go to a minimum of a size 6X with custom options, and even this is still the bare minimum.
Let’s chat about your “Perfectly Imperfect” campaign. What was the premise of the campaign and is it something you plan on continuing after the pandemic is over?
I noticed in a lot of body love campaigns that there were strict regulations for who was allowed to take part, what the dress attire was, how many people were allowed to be involved and I felt that it wasn’t as accessible as they could be. So why not change it up?
Originally I started posing at iconic locations and eventually people started to ask me to join which I of course said yes to! The more the merrier I believe in. I decided that I wanted to create a documentary-style film at first for social media that would be a few minutes long with women wearing lingerie holding signs speaking to issues around body image strutting around iconic locations in downtown Toronto. The film would have statistics and the woman would share their stories around their struggles with body image. Well, it turns out that many people were very frightened to walk around a city in their skivvies so that video idea then became a photography project and that is how the project was born.
I decided that I would drive across Canada and stop in every major city to pose at iconic locations to celebrate people of all shapes and sizes, of all genders, of all ages to show that you’re beautiful and your body deserves to be celebrated. There were no requirements to take part. I found that asking people to wear lingerie sometimes sexualizes people and I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable, so I told people they could also wear swimwear if that made them feel more comfortable. I also allowed children as long as they were somewhat clothed because it’s important to start promoting positive body image at a young age. I also thought it was important for the mothers struggling with their new bodies to show the beauty they had created. I thought it was important not to set a color scheme because what if people can’t afford to purchase a new outfit for a photoshoot and that would make it inaccessible to them? After thinking about these guidelines I started driving across Canada, sleeping in my car and at followers’ houses where we did these shoots across Canada and then down the West Coast. I wanted people to experience the same thing I did from these shoots, empowerment. It took me dropping down to my skivvies to find my confidence and self-love and I wanted others to feel that and to also build a community.
Mental health is very complex and with the year we just had I feel like many of us are being a lot more open online than usual.
I think the pandemic has really connected people around the world because we’ve all been through something unprecedented together and it’s affected all of us and our mental health. There is no rule book for how to respond to this, there is so much uncertainty and it’s created a parallel mental health pandemic. Right now more than ever we need to be having these conversations around mental health. I think people have gotten so tired of keeping up with appearances that they’ve had enough and are sharing because they’re tired of feeling alone, they want to normalize mental health, they want to destigmatize things, they want community and support. We need to be sharing resources, especially affordable ones and free resources because people are financially struggling and it’s time for us to step up and help our community up.
We have seen a lot of people take Mental Health breaks from social media. Let’s talk about mental health and social media and some tips about how to manage during those times when you need a break.
Let’s get real! Social media can easily and quickly destroy your mental health if you do not have boundaries and proper coping skills for it especially if this is your job. For me personally the moment someone or something starts to upset me and trigger me I have to either mute that person or unfollow. It’s important that you’re only following people that uplift you and make you feel good about yourself. If you notice that you’re starting to compare yourself to others, that you’re becoming negative and highly critical of yourself then it’s time for a social media break. Sometimes social media can be the thief of all your joy if you allow it to be. I used to have no boundaries around it and the result was I was constantly burning out trying to keep up with everyone. I never felt like I was good enough. I have shared and constantly had vulnerability hangovers. I had so much guilt when I didn’t post every day or when I took a social media break. I was living out of fear that if I took a break then all my followers would disappear overnight which obviously wasn’t true.
Some boundaries you can set for yourself are, set a time for yourself when you can log off every night. Pick a day, to a few days a week where you log off and don’t check any of your social media channels. If you have negative comments or disrespectful people on your page use that block button freely. Protect your energy at all costs.
Body Love is a journey… and there is no end to it. What is your advice to anyone struggling with loving their bodies?
I think that we see people online loving their bodies and we think they love themselves 100% of the time and that’s just not the reality of it. Learning to love your body is a long and hard process. I love my body 60-70% of the time and that’s a huge win for me. It’s something you have to work on every day and there is no magic pill for it, even though diet culture may promise you one. I think the first step is learning to accept your body where it is at right now and learn to respect it for all that it does. Something I do that really helps me is just taking a moment to look in the mirror naked or in my underwear and appreciate my body for all that it does and saying that out loud. I thank my body for keeping me alive, for growing with me, for supporting me, for being kind to me even when I wasn’t kind to it. I found that the more I did this the more I started to believe it. I also like to pump myself up when I’m having a good body image day, I really cheer myself on and tell myself how hot I am. Not every day will you love yourself and that is ok, but slowly start with appreciation and respect.