An Interview with the Succulent Six!
by Steff Ivory Conover (Ivory)
THE SUCCULENT SIX (6×10) is a CBC original series following a group of diverse plus size models and performers, as they navigate a world full of small bodies and minds. A squad of five larger than life close friends, they design and execute missions to champion body positivity, end size bias, and fight fat phobia. Each episode they will invite a special guest to be their honorary sixth member as they step out of their comfort zones to champion body positivity. All episodes begin streaming on the CBC TV app and at cbc.ca/watch, Tuesday, February 27.
Why don’t you take a minute to tell us a little bit about your story and how The Succulent Six got started?
The Succulent Six are a collective of plus sized activists from across the media landscape, embracing body positivity in everything we do. Our team of “pseudo-superSHEroes” was formed on International No Diet Day 2016, united on a mission of body acceptance.
For our readers who missed our article about you in the Winter 2016 issue of FabUplus, what is the Succulent Six all about?
We like to challenge each other by taking on special missions that push us out of our comfort zones and champion self-love in all shapes and sizes. Our goal remains to stop the brow beating, fat shaming and self deprecation that women (and men) face day in and day out. Shoot the censors, cast off the constraints, live life to the fullest and LET IT ALL GO.
We hear you’re launching a show on CBC Television; tell us what that’s all about.
With our new series, we invite the viewer to come along with us as we partner with a special guest ”Succulent Sixth” get out of our comfort zones, and complete missions that champion self-love in all shapes and sizes. In creating and releasing this series, we want to spark a conversation to help end weight discrimination, size bias and fat phobia. We want to question the idea of one “right” body shape, and celebrate beauty at ANY size, reminding people to live their best life, each and every day. We want to remind people of the importance of Health at Every Size, and promote body diversity and size acceptance across the media landscape and beyond.
When did you begin to embrace your own curves and can you share with me about your own personal journey to self-love and body acceptance?
Each and every one of us has battled body image issues, from bullying, fat shaming, trying to fit in and beyond. I think the thing that unites us all is we found self love and body positivity through each of our respective art forms – I for one, found self love through being onstage. I found self acceptance in performing art school, in singing, acting and dancing. I began to embrace myself just as I was, as I realized that [as a performer] the audience wants to relate to you, wants to cheer you on – but can only do so if you’re showing your vulnerability, and your authenticity, and your truest self (or your character’s truest self) onstage. In navigating this truth telling onstage as a performer, the lines eventually blurred into my everyday life, and helped me fully embrace my most authentic self, just as I am. Each one of us had a different journey to learning to love ourselves and our bodies at every size, which is what helped unite all of us as a collective, since we saw so much of our own stories in each other.
Why do you think it is so important to share our stories with others?
I say time and time again, that telling my stories, my triumphs and my traumas, is what saved me from being consumed by them.
As a collective, we truly believe that the more you embrace your most authentic self, the more you become unafraid and unapologetic about sharing your light, the more you give others the permission to do (and feel) the same.
As you put your message out into the world, I’m sure you’re getting both positive and negative feedback. Can you share with us about that?
Fortunately, most of the feedback we’ve been getting is super positive – we believe the climate and the time is right for a series like this, for a group like this to really thrive. Of course there will always be naysayers anytime you’re attempting to stray from what is the “norm” – whether that’s people saying that fat bodies are unhealthy or unappealing to look at, or whether that’s flack coming from within the plus sized community saying that we’re showing too much skin, or pushing the envelope too much. Truly, you can’t please them all, so we say cast off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbour, ignore the naysayers and just own your truth.
What is the overall message you want our readers to gain from your movement?
We want to see the conversation around body shape, and body image change to acknowledge that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and that no matter where your body is at, you’re still deserving of the same love, respect and most of all freedom, care and consideration, as any other human. That modesty empowers some, and nudity empowers others, and it’s not our place to dictate which does what for whom. And most of all, that our differences are what truly make us beautiful, and diverse, and amazing – and THAT is what we should ALL be championing.
What are some tips you can give to women with curves who are just starting their body positive journey?
We want women – heck – ALL people starting their body positive journey to feel empowered to live their best lives. To get out there and see and touch and taste and experience the world – to stop hiding – take the trip of a lifetime, wear the clothing you’ve always wanted to (but thought you couldn’t) or try the thing that you’ve been wanting to try but thought you could never do. This life isn’t promised – and if our series and our efforts help people to go for their dreams, to live their lives to the fullest, and to feel empowered then we’ve done our job!
If you could say one thing to my readers about body positivity, what would that be? Body love begins with self love – and self love begins with YOU. Speak to yourself the way you’d want your best friend to speak to you – and you’ll gradually learn to be your own best friend instead of your own worst enemy. YOU are your own most precious resource.
What are your plans for the future; what else do you hope to take on?
Next up for the Succulent Six is a body positive pool party being hosted by the entire collective here in Toronto this summer, our official website launch, and a whole bunch more missions championing self love, body positivity, and embracing your best life! Stay tuned by following us on Instagram @thesucculentsix and on facebook at facebook.com/thesucculentsix
FabUplus is the only body positive health, fitness, and lifestyle PRINT magazine with weight neutral content specifically dedicated to women with curves. What are your thoughts on this new media platform for the plus sized community?
We think that Fabuplus is revolutionary – it is so refreshing to see print media championing health, fitness and a full life at EVERY size, without the constant underlying focus of trying to sell women on reasons they are not enough, or need to change how they look or how much they weigh in order to “succeed”. It reminds us of the Gail Dines quote ““If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.” – Truly, your (weight neutral) approach really is what we hope more media looks like in the future. BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO!!
Website: www.thesucculentsix.com (coming soon!)
Social Media: @thesucculentsix