In a society where being thin is considered the ideal body type, a Calgary woman is on a mission to change that. About a year ago, Erin Bogle, started Big Girl YYC.
It’s a movement inspired by her own struggles with weight. Bogle created a space where women of all sizes can join classes and workshops focusing on body positivity.
“It came from a drive of wanting to quash the feeling of, ‘I don’t belong’ and to say, ‘Yes, I do and we will exist in spaces because this is the body I’m living in, and damn I am going to live,'” Bogle said.
Her rally cry started on social media and thousands started following her in support.
“Confidence came from meeting other women like me. Change comes in the discomfort and determination to want to know what’s on the other side because it feels really good to be over there and love who you are,” Bogle said.
Women who joined Big Girl YYC admit there was intimidation at the start but that feeling didn’t linger. Tamara Brown signed up despite the initial feelings of self doubt.
“I’m terrified of sweating, of feeling like a fool. I’m scared of failure, I’m telling myself I can’t when I haven’t even tried and I turned around and said the one thing stopping me is me,” Brown said.
Brown was so moved by the experiences she’s had at the group events she took herself off the waiting list for weight loss surgery.
“Classes, events, love, everything. Being a big girl has stopped me and finding confidence has been so freeing and opened me up to a world I didn’t know existed,” Brown said.
Roselle Gonsalves is the newest member.
“It was the most incredible, heartwarming, humbling experiences. I still can’t dance but every time I go to class I come away feeling like a belong somewhere,” Gonsalves said.
Kimberly Beckett said she is so grateful to be surrounded by such strong, fierce women.
“I never went to dance class because thought I would be the big girl in the back and be hiding but when you come to these Big Girl YYC events you’re accepted no matter what ability,” Beckett said.
Together they find strength. They said they’re tired of pretending to be small. Tyneal Buchanan is raising two young girls and wants them to have a positive body image.
“I was always worried shopping for a bike, ‘What’s the weight restriction on that?’ Going on a ride, ‘Will we fit?’ And Erin has removed all of that,” Buchanan said. “You don’t have to go on craze diets on every magazine. I fell into all of them but I have done that for the last time in my life.”
“I feel I am the girl back before society changed me. I am happy and carefree and do things now without fear of judgement,” Brown said.