Warning: This post contains nudity and may not be suitable for work.
Love your body.
That's the very message NOW Toronto magazine hopes to send with its second annual Body Issue, featuring nude portraits to showcase the beauty of body diversity. The spread features athletes, performers and activists who stripped down and opened up about what their bodies mean to them.
"I first conceived of the idea as a more inclusive, diverse and inspiring version of Sports Illustrated's Body Issue," writer Sabrina Maddeaux told The Huffington Post in an email. "The images celebrate the human body in all forms, but our subjects' stories, in their own words, go way beyond skin deep. True, most of the people we photographed were initially (and understandably) nervous, but the consensus was that being shot nude was an incredibly liberating experience. The response has been overwhelmingly positive."
Biko Beauttah, a refugee from Kenya and trans activist, described how she has come to love her body as her temple.
"Finally one day I looked in the mirror and saw myself as myself: a woman," she said. "To my surprise, the body I hated met the idealized standards of Western feminine beauty. Let's just say that I have weighed the same since my late teens and love my body; it's my temple. It's amazing the positive impact that going through life as your authentic self can have -- not only on yourself, but on others around you."
The project began as a way to encourage self-love at a time when societal pressures may been overwhelming.
"We started the annual Body Issue in 2015 to combat the onslaught of homogenous stories that promote negative attitudes towards bodies at New Year's," Kate Robertson, digital development lead at NOW told HuffPost. "Rather than the usual stories around diets and exercise, we aim to present a truly diverse set of Torontonians who share their stories about their journey to self-love. It's a beautiful project that we all take a lot of pride in."
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