Boundaries — Remember that “NO” is a great word to protect your energy. Whether you are coupled up or spending time with friends and family, it’s vital to have relationships where you feel safe and secure. You should never feel guilty for being true to yourself. Healthy boundaries are imperative for showing yourself respect!
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Lauren Dick.
Emily Lauren Dick is a body image expert and activist who is committed to making girls feel comfortable in their own skin. Her book, Body Positive: A Guide to Loving Your Body, is the number one resource for young adult women who desire to redefine and understand true beauty. Emily believes that educating young people about body image, teaching resiliency, and normalizing real bodies is critical in combating negative thinking and improving self-esteem. See www.happydaughter.com for more information.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I grew up in Mississauga, Ontario, in a loving, philanthropic and entrepreneurial family. I consider myself a “wearer of many hats” because I enjoy learning, doing, and taking charge of every opportunity! Many of the things I’ve learned have been self-taught, from photography to marketing. I also have a degree in Sociology and Women’s Studies. The one consistent guiding force for me has always been my passion for making this world a better place, especially for young girls. Being a mother now myself to a 3-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy, I’ve focused much of my energy on promoting body positivity and challenging both gender and beauty standards. I want my children to grow up in a world where they decide who they want to be!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
I think the most interesting story I have is actually landing my publishing deal! I’m not a doctor, therapist, celebrity…I’m just an average woman trying to make a difference. We often focus on someone’s accomplishments or luck but spend little time recognizing what it took to get there. The self-doubt, the no’s, roadblocks, and all the struggles that aren’t seen. This is why it’s so important to share our stories. I used my education, my passion, and my drive to stay focused so that I could see my book, Body Positive: A Guide to Loving Your Body, out in the world today! I think it took longer than it would have if I started on it today, but then I wouldn’t have learned the ins and outs of the process, and my book wouldn’t have developed into what it is. The best takeaway here is that it shouldn’t matter how long it takes you to accomplish something if it’s what you are passionate about. It also doesn’t matter if your original goal changed into something different than what you first intended it to be because that only means it’s improved or become something bigger!
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I feel like there are no mistakes when it comes to following the journey you are on! Each stumble offers you a lesson to learn something, improve upon something, and making mistakes means that you are at the very least TRYING. If you never take action, you will never know what you are capable of and what opportunities may open up for you as a result. If I have to choose something, I will say my biggest mistake was ever doubting myself! I had friends and family question what I was trying to accomplish, people who thought I wasn’t qualified or connected enough to see this through. Did those things stop me? No, but sometimes they stood in the way of me best using my time to work towards my goal. I learned that what matters most is what I’m trying to accomplish and that only my opinion of myself truly matters!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I don’t think I would be here today without the support of my family and a very good friend of mine, Jess Camboia. When women support other women, amazing things can happen. So often, we are taught that we need to compete with each other, but we all win when we work together! Jess helped me gather photography subjects and offered her makeup and hair services free of charge to entice them to be a part of my project. She continues to be a great sounding board and cheerleader in everything I do to promote body positivity!
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
The world needs to see more real! I decided to include unedited images of women in my book because I wanted readers to not feel alone with how they see their bodies. The women I photographed have scars, stretch marks, blemishes, and they have diverse backgrounds and body shapes. I believe that normalizing real bodies will help society see that women are more than what they look like. It was also imperative for me to reveal the reasons behind why girls and women feel insecure. The beauty and diet industries make multi-billion dollars from female insecurity, and it’s something that their advertising is built upon. When girls understand this, it’s empowering. They learn that their insecurities are not actually because their bodies being abnormal or gross. They feel this way because companies profit from their desire to fit in and be “normal.” This knowledge doesn’t remove those insecurities, but it allows them to build resiliency and work towards body positivity with some of the strategies I outline for challenging social norms (such as consciously curating their social media feeds to be more body positive).
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Social Media Detox — The only diet you need is a media cleanse! Social media can be overwhelming because you may constantly be comparing yourself to others. It’s not good to view content that makes you feel negative about yourself, especially when it’s not apparent how much of it is posed and edited. On social media, we only see others’ highlight reels, which is especially problematic when comparing it to your low points. Stop following pages that make you feel bad about yourself and limit your time not to become over-obsessed.
- Eat! — Eating might seem like a necessity rather than a form of self-love, but it is both. When you don’t eat regularly, your body can’t function at its best. Forget diet food rules and enjoy eating a variety of foods that make you happy. Enjoying your food is just as important as the nutritional value you get from it. Taking care of your body by eating without restriction is an essential part of showing yourself that you care!
- Boundaries — Remember that “NO” is a great word to protect your energy. Whether you are coupled up or spending time with friends and family, it’s vital to have relationships where you feel safe and secure. You should never feel guilty for being true to yourself. Healthy boundaries are imperative for showing yourself respect!
- Self-Care — Your definition of rest might look a little different from mine, but what matters is that you are taking time to get some! Whether you recharge by watching tv, taking a nap, running, or getting a massage, it’s essential to take time for yourself. Doing so allows you to avoid burnout, stay energized and productive! We live in a world where we continually feel like we have to “get it done,” but sometimes, things can wait. Of course, there are things you have to regularly (like your job), but if you prioritize yourself, you will feel more able to tackle the things that aren’t as enjoyable to do (like the dishes)! Teach yourself to do things because you want to, not because you have to!
- Positive Self-Talk — Having negative feelings is normal because we all experience things like shame and sadness at times. The more we practice positive self-talk, the easier it becomes to feel love towards ourselves. While we might not feel completely happy with the way we look or where we are in our careers, our mindset weakens when we only focus on the negative things. A gratitude journal or love note to yourself can significantly impact your thinking and your feelings towards yourself!
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I’ve actually just joined an organization called Live Life Unfiltered, and I’m spearheading the next campaign, which we’ve named #ShowMeUnfiltered. Our goal is to hold businesses accountable for the way they edit bodies in advertising. It’s why we recently launched a Change.org petition to start gathering signatures to lobby for a law where any bodies that have been edited in commercial photography/videography must be accompanied with a disclaimer notice that the model’s body has been retouched. France implemented a similar law in 2017, and we are hoping to encourage this to happen in Canada and the United States. The #ShowMeUnfiltered campaign will also include a series of initiatives that will encourage people to relate instead of compare. With anorexia having the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, we must take steps to ensure that mental health, especially in women, is a priority. Dove is working towards a similar goal with their #NoDigitalDistortion campaign, which encourages social media users not to use filters online. A recent study by Dove found that 80% of girls by age 13 distort the way they look online. The movement we need is the one where we call to see the whole world A LOT less filtered!
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
Here are my 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started My Journey Towards Self-Love! These are things that I believe are so necessary for people that I wrote my book to share these lessons (and more) with the world!
You can view the video on YouTube!
- Follow your heart and listen to your intuition, not the bully voice that tells you, you can’t! I like the saying your first thought is what you have been socially conditioned to think, and your second thought is what you CHOOSE to believe. We all need to make the choice to choose love (of self and others) over hatred.
- Health is not visible! Our society values appearance as opposed to overall health, which includes both the mind and body. It’s important to note that not everyone has access to “health” and that being healthy doesn’t give a person more valuable than another.
- Body Positivity is about all bodies, especially marginalized bodies. There is no progress if we aren’t equal. We all may experience negative body image, but those experiences will differ based on how much privilege our bodies hold. I can’t say that I believe all bodies are worthy of respect if I’m not willing to work towards dismantling racist and fatphobic social systems.
- Food freedom is life-changing. It’s about listening to your body, not diet culture, to determine what, when and how much to eat. Learning to enjoy food without guilt is so freeing!
- Diet culture manufactures self-hatred! I wish I had understood the reason I hated my body for so many years far sooner. Companies make money off of our insecurities and these insecurities wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the messaging these companies put out, which make the cycle of negative body image issues never-ending.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
I believe that mental health is vital to our overall health because it affects every aspect of our lives, including the physical. To enjoy life, feel good in our skin, and cope with the ups and downs, we must take care of our complete well-being. This includes our emotional, psychological, and social needs as human beings!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Thank you for these fantastic insights!