hellorousseau

an eloquently warped point of view from the tongue of a cartoon character.

Tag: body positive

Foxy Hockey Hullabaloo

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“‘One word: ‘Fight.’ Anyone can do it when it feels good. When you’re hurting, that’s when it makes a difference, so you have to keep fighting.” -Erin Cafaro, 2008 rowing Olympic gold medalist


When I graduated from high school, my class had its celebration at the Fairmont.

It was a Moulin Rouge themed, feather-laden, wine-fest, with an after-hours chicken finger bar, and one constipated parent who complained about the theme being too inappropriate and promiscuous.

Even though no one gave the Les Mis theme a chance.

Halfway through the night, I managed to successfully sneak into a few photo booth pictures, drink the leftover wine on most tables, and dance hard enough to make my feet gush blood while the DJ spun his sick beats.

It was nearing midnight, and I decided that I needed a few more decent memories before I trudged off to my eventual grave in the cemetery that was university.

I noticed my friend Amanda going into the photo booth with her boyfriend at the time, and as they kissed and canoodled for the camera’s timer, I poked my head in through the back panel.

Now, I honestly don’t know why it was so funny, but when the picture printed, I laughed so fucking hard that I peed my pants.

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All that table wine may have been a contributing factor.

I was wearing my favourite pair of neon orange, camera-covered panties, which I decided I needed to remove immediately, and so I left a ballroom of floor-length gowns and tuxedos to take off my underwear.

When I got into the bathroom, I wrapped them in a paper towel, washed my hands 4 times, then proceeded to figure out what to do with my favourite pair of underwear. After all, I couldn’t just throw them away.

They were lucky. They were the only reason I had passed my biology exam. They were the only reason I had the courage to go out and meet people after an exhausting breakup with my ex-boyfriend.

These underwear had magical powers, and whether they smelled like pee or not, I was NOT just going to abandon them in a hotel washroom trashcan.


I’m not even lying when I say that this would be a more appropriate send off.

After literally thirty seconds of thought, and realizing that sticking them in my purse would be a super gross idea, I decided I would stick them in the sick room, and get them just before the night was over (by the way, the sick room is a place that you go if you get too drunk and can’t function. Or if you get, like, sick, I guess. But no one catches a damn cold at grad, lemme tell ya’.)

When I was in the room, however, my plans were quickly thwarted, seeing as the only thing in the small space were two stripped down cots on thin metal framing. I shoved the underwear under the bed’s wiring, adjusted the mattress, and just as I was about to shut the door behind me, I noticed someone crying on the leather armchair outside.

She was in a royal blue dress similar to mine, with one strap going over a shoulder, the other bare (except hers wasn’t an eye-gouging shade of pink). Her makeup ran down both cheeks, and though her manicured hands were polished and prim, her fingers were spotted from wiping away tears.

When I asked her what was wrong, she let out a louder sob, people around us turning their heads to see the source of the noise. I hesitated momentarily before leading her into the sick room, shutting the door behind us.

Apparently a girl we graduated with had snubbed her in a cruel display of ostrich feathers and Mean Girls-esuqe cattiness.

I tried to comfort her, telling her that the girl was pretty much stuck in her ways like a Louboutin in wet grass, that she should ignore her behaviour that reeked like a middle school sock-hop, but the girl in the blue dress kept crying.

After about 20 minutes of talking, I stopped my feel-good ramble. The scent had hit my nostrils, and I was suddenly hyper-aware that my new friend was sitting on top of my pee-soaked underwear.

“I pissed my pants earlier. Then I shoved them under the bed you’re sitting on.”

I paused.

“I’m sorry.”

Cailey Hay looked up at me from between her fingers. She let out a loud laugh.
Then she told me she wished we could have been friends earlier in the year, which was a weird reaction to someone telling you they pissed themselves in public.

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Pictured: Head of Hockey Hotness

Cailey Hay is a 21-year-old hockey player from OakBank, Manitoba, but I met her when she came to the hallowed halls of kilts and cliques.

Although we weren’t close then, we reconnected after realizing my piss-pants antics were a pretty solid bonding mechanism. In my eyes, she has always been an outspoken, confident woman who dominates on the rink, and connects with just about everyone she meets.

And no matter where we find ourselves, Cailey Hay turns heads, whether it’s hitting up MAW’s beer garden, or going to Whiskey Dix with me and her ex-boyfriend’s mom. Part of it is because she’s a babe and a half, but the other part is because of the level of confidence she exudes.

Cailey Hay is the perfect example of a Manitoba-grown, hockey-playing beauty who has worked hard at loving herself, despite life’s crooked obstacles. Being a well-rounded teammate and athlete is just one side of her. Being a daring, fiery, fashionable smoke show, is another.

As she attempts to balance all areas of her life on the edge of her skate, and be body-confident on and off the ice, this University of British Columbia powerhouse does her best to take on all challenges headfirst.

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But at least she’s wearing her helmet.

I think that body positivity is having a healthy relationship between your brain and your body. It’s just like any other relationship that you would have with another human being, except the majority of the contact is done in your own mind.

This all kind of hit home when I was schmoozing the Internet and found a quote saying, “Don’t say things to yourself that you wouldn’t say to others.”

Everything clicked.

People think that it’s okay to constantly bash themselves, and end up defining themselves through the vision of others.

In reality, you would never EVER go to your friends, or significant others, and say, “hey, your cellulite makes me nauseous,” “you are truly the ugliest person I’ve ever seen,” or “you’re a cow” (and if you do, please stop, now).

And yet, people don’t hesitate for a second when saying these things to themselves. There is such a disconnect between sharing happiness and kindness with your friends and family, and sharing these same loving thoughts with yourself.

Beyonce, who I love so much, said in her song Pretty Hurts:

When you’re alone all by yourself,

And you’re lying in your bed,

Reflection stares right into you,

Are you happy with yourself?

You stripped away the masquerade,

The illusion has been shed,

Are you happy with yourself?

Are you happy with yourself?

(**CUE SCENE FROM MUSIC VIDEO WHERE SHE USES A TROPHY TO GO APE SHIT AND BREAK EVERYTHING**)

At the end of the day, all you have is yourself. No matter who comes and goes in your life, you are the only one that will be present for every second of every day.

Playing hockey is the main reason I have any confidence at all. As opposed to individual sports, hockey requires so many different types of players to create a successful team.

Unlike men’s hockey, where all players have a fairly generic body type (tall, muscular- but toned- and bordering on thin), female hockey players come in all different shapes and sizes.

If there’s a female body-type you can think of, you can literally find it in our dressing room. This kind of physical diversity reflects the diversity of skills that make up our team. 

Everyone brings different strengths (and weaknesses) to the table, and even though no individual is perfect, together we create this flawless mosaic.

Being permanently attached to a team of women who stick together through thick and thin, through defeat and success, is the greatest gift in the world. It’s because of this atmosphere that I have experienced support in its purest form.

With competition as the base, these relationships extend beyond our sport to our everyday lives. Meaning, at the end of the day, hockey or no hockey, I will always have a family to back me up, just as I will always be there for them.

My team IS my confidence. 

As for my favourite physical feature… I would have to say my eyes.

I think it’s because every time I look in a mirror, I see my parents. With my father having green eyes, and my mother having blue eyes, I was gifted this odd and and beautiful combination of the two.

I also like that the colour seems to change with the clothes I wear, or with the lighting of a room. It’s fun to be a chameleon of sorts, having a mysterious part of you that can’t be defined.

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At the end of the day, hockey is a sport that seriously EVERYONE can love.

So many people who have never played watch the NHL on television for literally fifteen minutes, and they’re like, ‘This is stupid. Shoes with blades on them? Nah, that isn’t really my cup of tea…’

Well let me tell you, it’s so much more then that.

There are so many leagues around, especially considering we live in Canada, that provide open ice and games for all skill levels.

Even my mother, at 50, plays hockey occasionally. Anyone can do it! My personal favourite thing to do is to wait until Christmas time, and hit the outdoors rinks with family and friends.

If you’re not so much into playing the actual game, and just want to strap the skates on, it’s a really amazing experience to skate the river at The Forks in Winnipeg (also in at Christmas time).”

This is how this head of hockey hotness stays body positive.

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“Empower Women, and You Empower a Nation”

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A gold tube of mascara, and a police woman’s hat.

In September, I was lucky enough to attend The International Association of Women Police (IAWP) conference, which took place in Winnipeg this year. Amongst the sea of professional police in uniform, polished badges, and shining, proud smiles, my journalism classmates and I set out to tell these women’s stories.

Across from me, Shakti Devi delicately cuts the piece of cantaloupe on her plate. Amongst the crowd of women, her pale blue uniform stands out, three gold stars stitched down her shoulders. Across her heart, a badge in gold embroidery reads ‘India’.

Though Devi works for Jammu police, her recent job has been as a peacekeeper for the United Nations. There are over 5,160 female peacekeepers, a dramatic increase from the 20 women who served between 1957-1989 (un.org).

“We have to work hard for accountability. I had to prove myself,” said Devi, a name in Hindu culture that represents a Supreme Being who embodies the power of male deities. “You’re competing with men. You have to prove you’re not less than your male colleagues. We have to make a double effort, or we have no credibility.”

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Devi cracks a smile at one of my bad jokes

Devi is not alone in her trial for equality as a female police officer. Similar stories to hers were shared throughout The International Association of Women Police (IAWP) conference on September 29th at the Fort Garry Hotel.

Stories form women in uniform from Mexico, Grenada, and Red Deer, Alberta. Stories from single mothers, fresh-faced recruits, and veteran police officers. Stories from Michaëlle Jean, the former Governor General of Canada, who delivered her speech to the crowd with grace, humor, and a strong message.

“Empower women, and you empower a community. Empower women, and you empower a nation,” said Jean, shortly before receiving a standing ovation.

Coumba Ngouye Thiam travelled from Africa for the conference, a police officer from Senegal working as a peacekeeper in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“For me, as one of the first female police officers in my country, there were some problems,” said Thiam, who started working in 1982.

Thiam says that she has a lot more freedom to do her job than officers in Middle Eastern counties, but that there are instances where women are prevented from doing their work. “There are lots of rape cases,” said Thiam, her colleague next to her nodding silently.

According to UN Special Representative Margot Wallström, Eastern Congo is the “rape capital of the world”, with some reports stating that 48 women are raped every hour. “They don’t want women investigating rape cases because we are women, too,” she said.

For Thiam, though, working as a peacekeeper is more about what she can do, rather than what she can’t. “I love to support women,” said Thiam, smiling. Her colleague next to her smiles, too.

“I love to help women. I love sharing my police experience. I love accompanying them in their work to show them the best practices. They accept me in their heart,” said Thiam, touching her chest. “I love it.”

I Was Not Prepared for my Interview with Peter Nygard

When I met Peter Nygard, my shirt was stained with makeup. I had foundation tacked to my wrist, lipstick smeared down my collar, and eyeliner doodled across my thumb.

As I stood in the crowd at St. Vital Centre, I admired both the tall, picturesque models who towered over me with laser-whitened teeth and perfectly curled hair, and the clusters of other people, both men and women, most brimming with anticipation to catch a glimpse of the Winnipeg-based fashion executive.

The mall was packed, and as people examined Nygard’s new SLIMS, I was handed a microphone and put face-to-face with the man by one of his security personnel.

Two days before my encounter, I had been invited to attend the launch of INDIGO SLIMS at the Kenaston location. I left school between spares to get false eyelashes glued on, slipped into a dress that said ‘BOOM’, and touched-up my red lipstick.

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Me looking glamourous n’ shit.

It was was raining that evening, and the sky was dark and gray. As I approached the building, I could make out a blue carpet spread across the pavement as a welcome. I slipped through the doors quietly, and was met with a flood of flash.

About half a dozen videographers and photographers stood underneath a mass pyramid of mannequins and SLIMS, all constantly taking pictures. Above, a silver halo littered with blue lights illuminated the front entrance. I caught my reflection in the metallic face of a mannequin with a burgundy hat.

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One of several Nygard-pant-pyramids.

A server in a small black dress walked past me with a plate of appetizers and I followed. She stopped near a small crowd of people. As I managed to get my fingers around a chicken-kabob, I had a chance to properly scope-out the massive store.

Large clusters of fashionably dressed people lifted and admired clothing on the racks. Employees of Nygard were sharply dressed in the new signature SLIMS, some pairing the pants with heels and a red plain suit-jacket, others opting for a relaxed split-backed sweater. Loud, high-energy pop music mixed with people’s voices.

Some mothers held the hands of their young daughters in glittery tutus, walking throughout the crowd to find a seat for the show. Others sat with friends, admiring the different styles of SLIMS from a laminated pamphlet. The photographer in his checkered blue shirt brought a camera to his eye, signaling for the hip-hop dance crew in gold body-suits to squish together, quickly snapping a picture of their toothy smiles.

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Post-confetti dance party.

I was shown to my seat, but was promptly pushed into the back row to make room for others. I took a moment to admire the SLIMS that were given to me, lifting the bag on to my lap.

The pants were soft to the touch and stretchy. I turned over the waist band to check out the high-quality fabric, running my finger over the gold ‘NYGARD’ bar on the back pockets. When I flipped the tag, I caught a glimpse of an big S. I paused. A size small? With my massive thighs, perhaps two size smalls stitched together would make for a good fit. My face sunk and I dropped the pants in the bag.

Before I could readjust myself to watch the show, an employee appeared in a flash of blonde hair, apologized, and switched out the small SLIMS for a size of greater booty control (large). That’s when people began taking their seats, and the DJ started really blasting the music. I slid forward and stole a program from a chair in front of me.

Arial acrobats, wearing SLIMS and flesh coloured body suits, lifted themselves to the roof of the building by wide purple and red ribbon. While they spun, effortless and weightless, the announcer loudly screamed: “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BOOTY”.

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No, it’s all about the talent.

The commentary does not distract from the acrobatics, though. One girl loops her leg through an opening and suspends upside-down, her arms fanning out with the wide span of ribbon. Another in the background does the same, her arm extended to the crowd.

The models that walk the runway shortly after the acrobats are high-energy and poised. Nygard’s style calls for accents of fur and leather, with high-waisted SLIMS taking centre stage. Styles of blue and black knit denim, both bellbottoms and skinny jeans, make their way around the store. Models with berry-red pouts turn the corner to show off wide-brimmed sun hats and dark, round sunglasses.

But professional models weren’t the only ones walking the runway. A few of Nygard’s staff also joined the strut, showing off the SLIMS in their variety of body types. The employees smiled and waved, some dancing a little as they made their way around the store, drawing thunderous cheers and support from the audience.

The jewelry and accessories worn by the models are bold and bright, but do not distract from the clothing. In some instances, bright bling is combined with clothing, one of my favourite pieces being a blue, metallic, long-sleeved shirt with a sparkling leopard’s face on the front. This shirt in particular was paired with black denim SLIMS.

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I’m a sucker for cat-faced-anything.

After a few songs and outfits, the announcer introduces two dance academies, both of which are dressed in different styles of slims. Some bust out hip-hop moves in leather style SLIMS. Others keep the beat in knit denim, the audience engaged and clapping as the girls make their way to all corners of the show.

Soon, the models resume, introducing more sleek styles. Hints of lace and animal print were littered throughout the clothing. Modern zipper details played up basic pieces, giving them more of an edge. Gold accents were also popular for both the jewelry, and outerwear.

As the show wound down, the music picked up, and a burst of confetti covered the audience. I slid through the throngs of people to talk to Nygard himself, but soon realized the mass calamity would stop me. Security was present as people snapped photos with the designer, the crowd so densely packed that I found myself getting claustrophobic. I caught my reflection in the metallic face of a mannequin with a fur-lined hat.

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‘Sup.

Two days later, I found myself scrambling to get to another Nygard show after work. This time it was at St. Vital Centre, the location of a small mall tour Nygard was doing which included Polo Park the day before.

I didn’t have time to change or touch-up my makeup, so I ran to centre court in turquoise floral socks and brown leather loafers.

As I stood to the sidelines, my face red from rushing, hands clammy from nerves, I watched as people posed with the man, camera flashes erupting as he smiled, his hand a blur as he signed his name to pamphlets.

I was taken past the line, and waited as a man who claimed he was a childhood friend of Nygard snapped a photo with him. I readied my voice recorder and questions on my phone, but it was taken out of my hands by Nygard’s security. Instead it was replaced with a microphone.

Before I had a chance to react, I was face-to-face with Peter Nygard. The cameras in front of us buzzed. I thought for a moment before opening my lipstick-smudged mouth to ask him questions about his new SLIMS.

Nygard told me that a key area they wanted to tackle was the butt- specifically, lifting and shaping the butt. “To us, the butt is like Victoria’s Secret with the bust. She does the bust, we do the butt,” said Nygard.

The second part of the design for the pants was to make the wearer seem taller. Because the pants are high-waisted and form-fitting, they’re styled to fit comfortably like a second skin.

Nygard also explained that the evolution of knit fabric was another challenge he had to overcome. Knits from fabric like ponte roma are starting to become really popular, and Nygard admits that he “screwed up” with that when he first started in the business 47 years ago.

As for SLIM reception? Well, it’s been stellar. Nygard said that they can’t keep the pants in store, claiming that there are people looking to copy the style now. “It really is the biggest product in the market place today,” said Nygard.

For me? SLIMS are the the definition of cheating on denim, and Nygard agrees.

“You are cheating on jeans! We do everything with a knit denim, we do everything a jean does, but we also make it compressed and comfortable,” said Nygard. “We can do with this fabric we do everything jeans cannot do.”

So, at the end of the day, what do other people think of my butt in Nygard SLIMS?

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“They look very comfortable! I’m all about jeans that aren’t really jeans. I would buy a pair. They look legit. I’m impressed!” – Kristyn

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“The pockets are nice. They make the pants look slim, and I love the waist, too!” – Adriana

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“Look’s good! I would buy them if I were a girl.” (Then he sang If I Were A Boy, but If I Were A Girl) – Luke

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* The quotes used in this piece were not directly transcribed by the author.