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Hanging with Natasha Powell: Recovery, Body Diversity and Real Beauty

This week is a very special blog for us. Natasha Powell is an old friend and is a body positive warrior! Our girl Lizzy got to do a photo shoot with her and her beauty shines through not only in the photos, but in her honesty and strength during this interview. 

Spandettes: What was your experience with your own body image before finding the body positive community?

Natasha: I was honestly quite lost and lonely before I discovered any sort of body positive community. Around age 15 I fell deep into the clutches of anorexia, anxiety and depression. It was horrible. For years my days would consist of constant and excessive physical activity, little to no food and secretive self-harm. I wanted to die. I know that sounds grim, but that’s the ugly truth about eating disorders.

Spandettes: How did you first come across the body positive movement?

Natasha: After years of treating my body horribly, I knew something had to change. I remember calling my boyfriend crying (this was unfortunately a very common occurrence). I told him I was exhausted. Not just physically, but mentally. I was so incredibly tired of feeling sad, of having no energy, of starving and suffering and crying every damn day. 

Soon after I began searching online for anorexia recovery blogs. I don't exactly remember how or why but some sort of serendipity led me to stumble upon a photo of plus model Tess Holiday (at the time she was known as Tess Munster). I remember thinking 'wow, she's so beautiful...but she's fat.' It boggled my mind that a person could be both. For the longest time, I believed whole heartedly that if you were thin, you were also happy, successful, lovable & beautiful. Seeing photos of Tess, smiling, laughing, brimming with confidence and beauty, turned all my preconceived notions upside-down. After that I started following other plus models & bodacious babes on blogs, Instagram & Facebook. Women like Nadia Aboulhosn, Crystal Renn & Gabifresh who are all stunningly gorgeous and have CURVES!

Spandettes: Tell us a little about your experience with the well-known model Tess Holiday and how she has inspired you.

Natasha: Tess is such a Doll! I had the opportunity to meet her a few years ago when she teamed up with the fabulous photographer Dana Brushette for a fun pin-up photo shoot in Toronto. I was a queasy, cowardly, nervous wreck! The idea of posing for pin ups was alarming enough. On top of that, I would be doing it in front of a large group of women, one of whom is a huge role model to me!

Tess was so incredibly sweet. She was very kind and down-to-earth, offering calming reassurance when I was feeling hesitant about my wardrobe choice or how my body looked in a corset. On that day she was a stylist, a coach and a friend.

After the shoot, I had a chance to sit with her for a few minutes. Obviously, selfies needed to happen!

I thanked her for helping me on my journey to recovery. Later she signed a photo for me (which I now have framed in my bedroom) Her words, inked with permanent marker on the page and in my heart “You're a gem. Stay strong.”

It was a really fantastic experience. A room full of beautiful women - different sizes, ages & backgrounds - getting pampered, having fun and empowering each other. I will never forget that day.

 

Spandettes: How important a roll do you feel the internet and social media plays in the momentum in the body positive and self-love movement?

Natasha: Before discovering body positivity and self love on the Internet & social media, I was immersed in a vicious cycle of buying gossip magazines, idolizing the "thin-is-in" celebrities on the cover and changing my body to fit into that narrow spectrum of beauty. It was hard to see past that because that’s all I was exposed to as a young woman. In commercials, movies, TV, magazines, we’re not seeing enough body diversity.  

Social media, mainly Instagram & tumblr, became a place where I could find like-minded people. Plus size bloggers, body posi babes &  recovery warriors. 

Spandettes: What keeps you inspired to love yourself when you feel down?

Natasha: Loving myself is something I still struggle with every day. Some days I find myself crying over old photos of my size 3 self, or cursing the existence of a new pimple or stretch-mark on my skin. Those days happen more often than I'd like to admit. When I find myself going down that road of self hatred, I try my best to change course before I spiral out of control. I do this by practicing self care. Self care is such a wonderful thing. It can be whatever you want it to be. Whatever makes your body & mind feel good. Sometimes I pop in my ear-buds and blast some music that inspires a random solo dance party in my kitchen. Other times I'll hunker down with some crayons and a colouring book while I watch cartoons. I try my best to listen to my soul and give it what it needs at the time.

Spandettes: What is your advice to young girls and boys who struggle with being body positive towards themselves? 

Natasha: Firstly, I want to say if you think you or someone you love may be suffering from depression, anxiety, self-harm or disordered eating, please seek help. You deserve better, I promise. 

Secondly, I know it may seem impossible, but try your best to be gentle with yourself. Remember that sweet, innocent you at 18 months old? The you that is joyful and beautiful and brimming with love? They're still in there. Tell that little one that everything is okay, that they're perfect just as they are and maybe your present self will hear it too.

Baby Natasha

Baby Natasha

 

Hanging with Nevon Sinclair: Rising Above Sexualization in the Music Biz

Let's talk about Nevon Sinclair.

First of all, just listen. Go ahead, check out the Youtube and Soundcloud links below this paragraph, pour a glass of wine and enjoy. This. Man. Can. SING! Nevon has made a name for himself as a choir leader and a back-up singer, but now he is blessing the world with his solo talents. All we have to say is: FINALLY! And we want more of his brand of juicy alternative RnB.

"All I Have"

"Sydney"

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Nevon to talk about his career, his current projects and the male experience of being sexualized in the music industry.

The Spandettes: Nevon, maybe you could tell us about what kind of experience you've had struggling with, or not struggling with being a man in the world of music and the image part of that.

Nevon: Ahhhhh, struggle indeed. Well, I find especially these days it's getting really sex driven. So I kinda 'have to' have that kind of sex appeal, or strive to be the world's sexist man. 'Cause I feel that that's what they're measuring everything up to these days. Not every artist is trying to be that. Personally I'm not trying to be a sex symbol...I mean if it happens it happens [laughs]. My music is more so about life and love and not just sex. I would love for people to steer away from that. But I feel like it's just what they're used to now. They're like 'But you're a man, you should be focusing on making the girls feel a certain way'. Which is cool but, I want [my content] to be more than that if I have song like that, I also want a song about life and how it can be really difficult and rough, or what it means to break up for a good reason, because it's best for both of us. So it's a constant struggle. You don't wanna neglect your image either, because it's a self image as well, cause you look back at photos or videos and you wanna be happy with what you see. I've had that feeling before where I think, 'oh I guess I gotta be smaller in person so I look good on camera' and you stop and you're like 'wait! What is the focus here?' So I guess that's what I can say my struggle has been.

Alex: It's interesting to hear a male perspective of being sexualized in the music industry.

Nevon: Because it's still there! We just don't talk about it as much.

Lizzy: You think about D'Angelo and his very very public experience with that.

Nevon: Exactly, And he was saying that was not his natural body and it was a lot for him to keep that up.

Alex: And that was one choice, one video.

Nevon: Right! And now everyone sees that and they want that every time. So, that's pressure. The video for "Untitled" made everyone view him a certain way. It's that sexualizing element.

Alex: Do you find you've found a balance between presenting yourself like an artist with an image and also felling like yourself in those images?

Nevon: I'm closer now. I'm still working on it though. I write a lot of music in a lot of different styles as well. So it's been hard to identify myself as one particular thing. Or at least simplifying it for people. I will be asked 'what is you style, what id your message?' and I'm like 'Weeeelll, I like this and that and that AND that and want people to feel this and feel that and I want people to feel this too'. I feel as an artist it's important to simplify who you are for others. Cause not everybody has an artistic mind or a creative mind. So I think you have to zero in on a focus. I've been recently working on that. I'm getting a bit better. It's just a work in progress.

Lizzy: As you get older you have a greater need for a sense of self, I think, 'cause before we weren't really thinking about it, but now it's like, what do I have to say, and how can I brand that?

Nevon: Just because you love something or like it a lot doesn't mean you have to do it as well. I can really like a style of music, but not want to make that as an artist. I can do that style when I'm having fun, but for my project let's get back to the focus.

Alex: It's learning to curate your own style.

Nevon: I used to want to do that. Like have a really, jazzy song and then you hear something else that's really nice in a pop style and you want to do a pop song! But that's not always the right way to do it.

Maggie: I know lots of artists that have made it that are like put in this box. Like, this is the kind of music you do, this is how you perform. And any time someone is like, 'well they're county, why aren'y they doing a country song?' Or even when a singer picks up an instrument people are like 'well she's a singer...what's happening?'

Nevon:  They wanna see you that one way. You want to have a focus, but you don't wanna be boxed in. I guess it's a balance. I think what people are doing now is they are experimenting with their focus and genre. You can have a jazz R&B and then a jazz soul album, it's kind of the same, but different. You can have some songs that are standard jazz and maybe some jazz/soul songs, but it's still focused in a certain way. So I think finding the balance is important. And then you're listeners can be like 'ok, she's a jazz-ish artist'.

The Spandettes: So we know that you've sung with a lot of singers doing back-ups and that you have lots of experience being in and running choirs, can you tell us a little bit about your back ground?

Nevon: So at around...well my mom said I was around 4 that I started doing the whole singing thing and taking interest, I can't remember that, so I tell people 6. But I do remember she was part of the church choir, and I had to follow her to practices and I started picking up the music along the way I guess. They actually got me up to sing with the choir. I was the only kid in front of a 60 voice choir. And at the time obviously, you don't know what's happening, I was just happy to be there. So I did that for a few years and I became super fascinated by harmonies, as you guys know. I love harmonies now! So I would go home and with my tape deck [laughter] my double tape deck. I would play a song and then work on the harmonies in my brain, and then record it on the other side. And then I found out that I could take that tape out, put it over here and record the third harmony. So I was like recording harmonies at a young age. I didn't know at the time what I was doing, it just made me happy. I would do that and I sang in choir. Then I got into competitions through church. I was doing junior competitions. It was my first time singing in front of people as well, and I won. And then I was hooked. I was really shy and nervous. I was about 9 or 10. I felt all the emotions that come along with standing in front of a crowd of people and singing. AND being judged at the same time. But because I won it made me feel like, 'you can do this'.

Alex: Wow, to get that validation at 10!

Nevon: I kept on doing it. I did more competitions and I won those as well, so I was like, 'well I need to do something else'. So I ended up joining a choir. The Sharon Riley and Faith Chorale. This is when it got really fun. I got to start traveling at 15 years old and touring. My first was in Alberta, we did an award show there. Then we went to Fresno, California two weeks later and I was like, 'what? This is what music is about??' My first flight and all these awesome experiences. It kept going from there. We sang back up vocals for Kanye West, back in the day when he was doing "Jesus Walks". We sang with The Killers, Mariah Carey...we sang with and for a lot for people. It was very fun. It's been a really cool ride.

Alex: Are you still with the choir?

Nevon: I'm not with them anymore, I sing with whenever they need me. But I had to kind of withdraw myself and focus on my own stuff. I was working with everybody and doing everybody else's stuff. I needed to do my own thing. I got some really good experiences form it cause they were the first people that actually allowed me to exercise my harmony skills. They would be like 'Just do it Nevon!!' I would be like, 'I wrote this song, will you guys try it out with me?' and they would be like 'Yeah for sure!!' Then they approached me to do their project and be the writer for the project. Now this is a Juno award winning choir. Before I started they had been doing this for years. They established a really good name for themselves. They are amazing. They have done so much. For them to be doing this for so many years before me, and then trusting me to do their next project was pressure but it was so cool. So I did that and it went well. And I thought 'I'm gonna write more!' So I did! I began writing more for myself and others. I work with other artists in the city doing vocal training and arranging. Just kinda getting my hands on whatever I can get my hands on. Now I'm trying to take myself out of the world of just begin a back up vocalist and I'm hoping people will see me more as an artist and a songwriter. I've written a lot of music for the gospel community here in Toronto. But nobody outside of that really knows who I am. So it's kinda like starting form scratch which was hard at first, but I'm a new artist again! So now I teach at Singer's Edge, I work with lots of cool artists like Daniel Caesar is one, an awesome new artist coming out of Toronto. Amoy Leavy, she's got a new album, so a bunch of people I work with are doing their own things, so things are moving. Sometimes I feel like things aren't moving, but that's the nature of it I guess.

The Spandettes: Can you tell us a bit about your projects?

Nevon: Yes! I have two projects right now. First a duo project called ELKTRK with my friend and producer Diego Las Heras. 

Alex: Did he produce "All I Have"?

Nevon: No, he did mix it though. The beat for that song was done by Joelle Chambers. A cat I used to work with back in the day. We did that one in 2013. Diego and I [ELKTRK] have released two singles already. One is called "AGS" which means ain't gonna stop. And the other song is called "You Got" which is the most recent track we've released. We'll be putting out a video soon, then the full EP. I don't have dates yet ...

Alex: Stay tuned people!!

Nevon: Stay tuned! And then my own project I'm working on as well, but that will follow the ELKTRK project. ELKTRK feels...I guess the way I can explain how it sounds is, alternative R&B. It's got a cool feel to it. Then my own stuff is more soul, it's a little darker. It's chill and organic. It's going to be more live music.


So there you have it, there's so much on the horizon for Nevon Sinclair. be sure to follow him @justNEVON on twitter and instagram! make sure to check out The Sharon Riley and Faith Chorale, ELEKTK and keep up with Nevon's releases! 

We're so excited to sing with Nevon on Thursday, June 9th at the Rivoli on Queen west! He's one of Toronto's best kept secrets, but not for long. We'll all be hearing a lot more from him!

xo

The Spandettes

Learning to Recognize Your Inner Queen

The great RuPaul is on tour with the cast of this season's RuPaul's Drag Race. For those of you who are familiar with the series you can look forward to the amazing talent of Bob the Drag Queen, Kim Chi, Acid Betty, Derrick Barry and many more gracing our fair city.

Cast of RuPaul's Drag Race season 8

Cast of RuPaul's Drag Race season 8

We wanted to talk about the amazing influence the drag community has had on the body positive movement. Since modern drag performance began, it has been incredibly inclusive. It spans class and culture and is not only a form of entertainment, but a form of expression for the performer. When you look at incredible contemporary plus size queens like Stacey Layne Mathews and Delta Work you can't help but be inspired by their confidence and fierce stage presence. There are also beautiful queens embracing their naturally flat chests in a wonderfully sexy way. Naomi Smalls is a great example of a lean and muscular beauty. All body types are authentically celebrated.

Stacey Lane Mattews

Stacey Lane Mattews

Delta Work

Delta Work

Naomi Smalls

Naomi Smalls

Any cis woman watching can't help but be in awe of their beauty and femininity. Our friend, musician Chloe Spears said of the impact of drag on her body confidence "[Jaidynn Dior Fierce] helped me as a full figured woman dress better. It's about finding your waist and accenting your best features. It's effortless tricks to bring out your femininity." She was inspired by Jaidynn Dior Fierce who is a plus size queen from Nashville. Chloe even messaged Jaden to express her gratitude for the confidence boost and received a response. This community is incredibly supportive. The success in the drag community is largely due to the way these women support each other and support their fans.

Jaidynn Dior Fierce

Jaidynn Dior Fierce

Even current makeup trends were born in the drag style. Contouring has become popular as a standard part of make-up application. This is a technique straight out of drag culture. If you've ever watched a youtube tutorial on getting your eyebrows on fleek, you have the drag community to thank.

Vivienne Pinay giving us perfectly contoured face and on fleek brows

Vivienne Pinay giving us perfectly contoured face and on fleek brows

Just think about all the obstacles these queens had to face to become their most authentic selves. Their journeys are inspirational. They face many obstacles in being welcomed into mainstream society and sometimes their own families. They fought to express themselves in a way that feels authentic to themselves. They are perfect role models for men and women alike for confidence, self-love and self-acceptance. So we want to extend a huge thank you to anyone who has the courage the be themselves, fully, without exception, because you inspire us and you are beautiful.

Xo

The Spandettes

Lizzy's Portrait of RuPaul

Lizzy's Portrait of RuPaul

Hanging with Maya Killtron pt 2: Cultural Appropriation, Consumerism and the 1%

Here is part two of our extended interview with the amazing Maya Killtron. We posted part one two weeks ago. To re-cap; we were stuck in downtown rush hour traffic. Our goal was to interview Maya about self-love, body positivity and fashion. That quickly turned into a full on rant session about a everything from snack-time to inappropriate humour. In transcribing our conversation, we realized it became less and less of interview and more of an amazing back and fourth conversation. In reading this be prepared for some tangents!

For this instalment we talk about the difference between being politically correct and being a nice person, fashion faux-pas at Coachella, the inevitable demise of our planet and the dangers of treating yourself to "Treat-Yourself" days.

Part Two:

Lizzy: There are those who are just from a different generation. They always make fun of people for being to politically correct. You see them getting grumpy about it, and those are the people who would grumble "Maybe Trump is right!'. Like, that kind of mentality. I think the thing they are missing is that it's just being nice. It's just communicating and being aware. Sure it goes to far sometimes.

Maya: I think the most important thing is just listening to people sometimes. Like with A Tribe Called Red, they recently called out a lot of festivals and said "We're not gonna commit to playing if you're still going to permit the wearing of head dresses. A lot of people on the other side of things were saying "Who cares? We're supporting your music!". And if someone from a particular culture, namely First Nations is saying "We don't want you to wear head dresses, we find it offensive, can you ban it from your festival?" Why wouldn't you listen to that? That's not coming from like "We don't want you to support our music", no! They're saying "We love your support but maybe don't do that!" In fact, it's not even a maybe. Don't Do That!".

Lizzy: Yes! It's not like they're saying to their fans "We don't like purple popsicles, don't bring any purple popsicles." Like that would be a ridiculous request. This is a deep-seeded, long standing tradition that is fundamentally theirs.

Maya: And unless you understand it completely, even if you don't understand it, just respect someone's wishes. 

Maggie: Is it really making you so happy, wearing that head dress that disrespecting a whole culture, that it's worth it?

Maya: Yeah, there was recently a really funny article. Some dude went around to people at Coachella, mainly white people. They asked them what they were wearing and they would say things like "Well, I'm wearing this loose, really comfortable top." Oh! Some would call that a dashiki. People are completely unaware of what they're wearing. it could be said, that as a Chinese person, I don't like it went people wear mandarine collars. That doesn't encroach on me, culturally. That's something that has made it into fashion and is positive. Whereas, if you're wearing a dashiki, that is something that is arguably, in fact cultural appropriation and you are not aware of it. I think that that is a problem. Then again, I don't wear that stuff, I don't know. I don't feel passionate about encroaching on other people's cultures. It just seems more natural to like, not make someone mad, but then again, I can't speak for everyone.

Lizzy: It's an interesting conversation, because, at the end of the day, anyone can wear whatever the f**k they want to wear, it doesn't seem like that big a deal on the surface, but it is a big deal when people aren't aware of the commentary they are inadvertently making when they put on something that is from another culture.

Maggie: I'm hoping that the majority of the people who do that simply aren't aware. If someone told them, "Hey man! I don't think it's so great for you to be wearing that.." You'd hope most people who would like, "Oh no!".

Lizzy: Right, like as soon as you're made aware you don't really have an excuse anymore. Once an idea is communicated there's no wiggle-room for people being assholes in my mind.

Maya: It is an interesting time, especially with the Black Lives Matter movement. The fact that there is a vocal and very prominent black voice speaking out against violence, discrimination of all types, and there is this sort of back-lash of All Lives Matter. It's like, yes, we know that, but we are not talking about that! This is the systematic separation of two different peoples. One being treated a whole lot worse than another. So why are you commenting on someone else's life? Because of a institutionalized separation of two races. Like, this is so crazy to me. But I understand why it's happening. A lot of people are unable to realize - I don't feel like ignorance is any excuse - but I feel like that often happens with any group of people that have have been marginalized and are now speaking up.

Lizzy: I'm interested to see what the future holds for world-wide communication and how movements manifest through online discussions. The internet is so new and is not going anywhere obviously. Social media is just like a forum of word vomit. Word vomit with a mask. A perfect shield from the real word where you can say whatever you want and be as racist as you want. It can be very negative and it can also be very positive.  I wonder if there will be a protocol. Like a more substantial social media protocol. I think all of these conversations are really coming to light, not only because of the internet, but there is a big part of it that makes having a vocal opinion a lot easier.

Maya: With All Lives Matter it just seems like a lot of people complaining "Well I can't participate in this". Well yes you can, you just have to stand with other people.

If we're gonna get futuristic. This is one of my favourite things to talk about. I feel, in only two to three generations, we are going to be in a fight for survival. The only way we can continue is for dramatic changes in the way we treat the planet and the way that humans survive. We're at an interesting point in history, we are now growing and farming twice as much food as is needed to keep the whole planet sustained, with the most famine. And I think that it is a unsustainable system. We talk about the 99%, ironically because we live in the western world, we're part of a very elite 10% (maybe) of the globe with clean water and resources. It's not sustainable. We may not see the end of it in our life time, but certainly in at least two.

Maggie: I'm watching an amazing documentary right now called Chopped. It's about food and the elements behind cooking our meals. It's about our history and how our brains developed. It talks about how we've moved away from whole foods to more processed foods. It's about companies making the most profit from food industries and how we have adjusted to that system. We now crave all of this processed stuff. I've only watch the first half, but it's amazing. If everyone just ate home-made food, we would eat a lot less! If you have a craving, like a pie or cookies, you can give into that because it's available to you. If you had to make it yourself you might not indulge so much. Imagine baking a cookie from scratch every time you wanted one!

Lizzy: I've found myself in this dangerous situation. I have to be wary of this. So if I've had a hard week, I always say "I deserve this and this and this, I did good this week I deserve to treat myself". Maybe it's a bottle of wine, or maybe I go out to dinner or go shopping. Something consumer driven. And so I did that one day where I treated myself really well. And then it sorted spilled over into the next day and then also into the next day. To the point where I did not deserve those things anymore. It went well beyond me treating myself. It was everything, not just food, but shopping and drinking to the point where it was just getting gluttonous. I had to catch myself. I had to be like, no no no, hold the phone.

Maggie: I think everyone does that. It's the way we were raise, like we deserve that kind of treatment all the time.

Maya: That's a very interesting physiology too. It's sort of bred into us. It's a very quick reward system. Even trickling down into the music industry. There's no patience. So being told that being someone is only going to listen to a small portion of your songs reflects exactly on how long someone is willing to wait for anything. We've gone from what used to be called a drive-through culture to being even more accelerated. A city like New York is very much like this, which is driven entirely by services being delivered to you. We live in such a tiny little box like you can't really cook, you have to have everything ordered in. It's so crowded you can't go shopping so you shop online. You have everything continually delivered to you. The price is being driven down so that it's harder to make a living. It creates this larger and larger disparately between the haves and have-nots. It doesn't stop people from wanting instant gratification from anything. It's about making yourself feel better. And I think anyone in the western world can relate to that. When you obtain something new you feel better.

Maggie: When you get something new you you immediately want what's next. It's not real. I want something new, I want to go shopping, this will make me feel better.

Maya: You wonder what few human responses we have left to things. They're not insignificant, but they're just becoming fewer. We have love and connection to other people. Truthfully, nothing can replace those things, but they are becoming less and less. The very idea that interaction amongst people has been replaced by the internet and your phone. You're more likely to text someone than you are to speak to them on the phone. You're more likely to call someone that go to their house. We don't talk to our neighbours. You arguably know more people, but how well do you know them? Humans are not programmed to know this many people! The space for them in your memory and their significance has been dropping because it's been filled up by volume and not by quality. It's something that we have to do for our careers. But is it damaging the social fabric that humans have developed over the past like, 10,000 years. We don't interact the same and it's happened in one generation! 


Although we reached our destination and had to part ways. we could have kept talking for hours. Maya is one of the most talented musicians in the city. We want to thank her for taking the time to get caught in traffic with us. It truly was an amazing conversation! We have so much love for this girl and we can't wait to see everything she accomplishes. If you missed her performance with us at The Rivoli on May 12t, be sure to check out her single release party for "Never Dance Alone" at Bar Lisa Marie on Friday June 3rd. We'll be there!!

xo

The Spandettes

 

Happy Body Positivity Week!

It's body positivity week and we are so inspired by all the great articles and posts we've been seeing! Our original intention for today was to post part 2 of our interview with Maya Killtron but since it's body positivity week we thought we would save that for next week and share these articles that make us feel all the feels!

Happy Body Positive Week!!

xo

The Spandettes

This Burn Survivor has Become A beauty icon

 

Beautiful Pregnancy Shoot - Shveta Salve

 

Make Up and Self Image

 

Our Amazing bodies

 

Go For Prints on All body types!

 

Disabilities and Dating

 

Vaginas!

 

Size Inclusive Shopping!

 

We all deserve Love!

Hanging with Maya Killtron: Body Image vs The Music Biz

Next Thursday we are going to be sharing the stage with Toronto based beauty and badass Maya Killtron. She will be the first guest artist in our monthly residency at The Rivoli on Queen Street West in downtown Toronto.

We asked Maya if we could interview her with a few questions about the music business and body image. What was intended to be a quick interview in the car while we drove across town turned into an hour of being stuck in rush hour traffic while discussing everything from female empowerment, to snack time, to the ultimate fate of the world. Instead of hating on terrible Toronto gridlock, we got to really dive into the genius brain that is Maya's. She is funny, observant, incredibly smart and articulate. Not to mention talented an beautiful. Chatting with her about relationships, love, consumerism, body positivity, Meghan Trainor and so many other topics was such an incredible joy, we couldn't possibly do just one single blog post about it!

Transcribed below is part one of our hilarious, intelligent and very real discussion. Stay tuned for part two coming next Friday!


Spandettes: We love to talk to women about self love and body image. Can you talk to us a little about your relationship to body image?

Maya: As far a getting over body image, I don't know if I have. I don't know if I ever will. It's an ongoing process. I think many woman tell you at varying age groups, that the older you get, you learn to be more self accepting. It just so happens that we are in an industry that doesn't actually follow those general rules. Where in fact, it creates a feeling of never being satisfied with yourself.

Personally, maybe I'm going down a big rabbit whole here, and some people may object, but I feel like the idea of being body positive within our industry is being destroyed by people like Mehgan Trainor. I don't actually feel that is very body positive. I feel that when you're talking about being body positive, it should have nothing to do with how others view you, whereas in that song, it says 'My mama says not to worry about your size, cause boys like a little more booty to hold at night'. Where I think if her mom had just said 'don't worry about your size'. Period. I think that would have been an excellent statement. If you're saying 'even though your big and you have a big butt, someone will still want to sleep with you, don't worry'. And I just feel like, you're still letting someone else dictate your self worth. Which is preposterous. 

Lizzy: Well and she's also demonizing thinner women in the song with the lyrics…I can't remember what the lyrics are...

Maya: 'I'm bringing booty back, go 'head and tell them skinny bitches that'…yeah…With this inclusive campaign there's also this counter campaign that says 'I am a model, I do have this body type, can you stop turning me into a villain?' I think that's also ridiculous.

Spandettes: Can you tell us a little about your style? You've got an awesome aesthetic.

Maya: Thank you! I can't take any credit for it 'cause I was styled by Jess Nasen of Aritzia in New York. She pretty much said, 'can you stop wearing so much crazy stuff?', which I did fight for a bit. But then she turned me into a minimalist. So now I only wear black and white, very teeny pockets of colour. She told me to invest in things that fit really well. Also her emphasis was not so much on fast fashion, which is what we're all sort of subject too. She was like 'if there's a silhouette that makes you look great, stick to it' Which also, as far as our industry goes, solidifies you're one branding. So Thank you Jess Nasen!!

Spandettes: We wanna talk about #SnackMonday. For those who don't know, every Monday Maya puts out a video featuring different snacks. It's truly wonderful. It's funny and sexy and frankly, very empowering to us. 

Maya: I've learned, I eat for me. 

Maggie: I think you're making a lot of boys and girls happy with those videos.

Lizzy: I just wanna go out and buy a big jug of Nutella every time I see your videos!

Maya: There's a fine line between pushing your brand and getting yourself out there and also being an egomaniac. If you can do it in a way that is not too self deprecating, which is also a problem when you put yourself down so much. You need to be able to say 'I can sing, I'm really pretty and I really like snacks.' And there's this amazing filter that puts it all together in the most glossy way on snapchat. Thank you 4 Korners for teaching me for an hour how to use snapchat!

Spandettes: We are all huge RuPaul fans. She has so many mantras that we can absolutely live by. Our favourite one is, If you can't love yourself….

All together: How in the hell you gonna love someone else?!?

Maya: Can I get an amen!?!

Lizzy: Amen! Exactly! That one hit home for me when I was about 25. When I finally realized 'Oh shit, I have to be a full person to love someone and be loved, that makes so much sense!'

Maya: I mean, that's kinda the name of the game and we're in an industry that is designed to make you question your love for yourself. In order to survive you have to please as many people as possible and have as many people as possible financially buy into who you are. If you're not something that people are buying into you, then you won't survive. So naturally, if your business is failing, your self esteem is going to fail with that. 

I'm super jealous of people who can just unabashedly go about life and really have like this zero fucks attitude, regardless of how they feel. We all have those moments when we see another woman on the street and think 'why are you wearing that?' and then you have to check yourself. That has nothing to do with me, so why am I feeling this way? So until that can equalize and you can walk down the street and smile at somebody else, it's not gonna change. Or at least not over night.

Spandettes: There is a culture of pitting women against women and constant competition. To be dressed better, to have better hair, to be thinner OR to have bigger boobs or a bigger butt. We're glad that we're seeing this shift towards more and varying body types generally. But there is still a sense of competition, not always inclusion in that shift.

Maya: Yeah, There's a sense of justifying. We can justify your size -because-…Well no, that's not really the point. I do like the idea that fashion brands, as far as clothing is concerned are becoming generally more accessible to all women, and to men! I think one of the biggest faux pas of the year - I don't really shop here anyways - but I've been speaking out about this 'cause, I'm really mad. It was Abercrombie has a fake inclusive body campaign as a joke for April fools. They didn't even tell the plus size models included in the campaign. It was an add featuring men in varying sizes sporting Abercrombie clothes. It was the biggest middle finger. I don't know in what department someone thought this was hysterical, but there is a trend where, if we're going to look at statistics, 60% of the United States is considered plus size. That is an incredible market. This is a result of many things. So why are we continuing to pursue an unrealistic idea of beauty? 

Lizzy: Yes, I always felt as a kid I was the over weight one in my group of friends, I thought 'well, that's fine, I'll be the funny one, I might be fat but I can be funny.' And that's not a great feeling. Then the body positive movement comes around and I see all these images of beautiful women of all sizes and I think 'I can be pretty!' Then you see something like Abercrombie's joke commercial and it's just so shaming. It's so shaming. It brings all those feelings back. It confirms that I can't be pretty and that I have define myself in some other way, because women are made to feel like we are as valuable as we are beautiful. So if I can't be beautiful that what am I? It's a cycle that's hard to break.

Maya: Yeah I don't like that, it's like saying you can be pretty…but…that's one thing that I found when I was doing online dating. People love to define you by what you look like. This guy sent me a message like, "I See you've got some exotic in you". And I was kinda like WHAAAT? I appreciate that you recognize that I'm not white, that's fine, but can you ask that in a non-weird way? 

I feel like there's a big catch 22 with all this stuff. In the 80's growing up, the idea about cultural appropriation hadn't hit the main stream. Also we dealt with higher levels of inequality. So it was ok to put certain jokes and certain feelings on TV. Now we have a much more aware audience. People who didn't otherwise have a voice, now have a very strong voice. Now people have to check themselves. Does this make people a little bit more sensitive? I don't know. I would love to make some of the jokes that I used to make when I was younger, but I know now I can't make that joke. Just because I'm Asian, I can't make all the Asian jokes. It's not cool because traditionally Asian people didn't have a big presence in media, now it's a lot stronger. We put more asian people on TV. Azis Ansari is a prime example of that. When it comes to different body types and sizes it's like, if you still look at different TV shows, what is that show? Mike and Molly! It's like they're saying 'we can put bigger people on TV but they have have their own show, they can go over here'. 90210 is still over there. It's kinda like, that's not really what we're going for here. And also, Mike and Molly really sucks, so do they leave all the good writers for the skinny people? I don't know. I think it's one of those issues that the more people talk to each other about it, hopefully the more people will react positively about it.


Catch up with us for part 2 coming soon as we chat with Maya more about cultural appropriation, the internet, global warming, farming and consumerism. Thanks Maya for your beautiful mind!

xo

The Spandettes

 

 

The "A" Word: Getting through body image anxiety and self doubt.

This week all three of us have been struggling with anxiety in our personal lives, which can easily lead to self loathing when it comes to body image, doubting our choices, and genrally forgetting that we are just who we should be, and doing just what we should be. So we decided to talk honestly about what makes us anxious and how we overcome, cope with or at least acknowledge those feelings.

Lizzy:

Shopping is always hard for me. For a long time I was between plus size and large so I could shop everywhere and nowhere. Finding large sizes in regular stores didn't always work out. Even when I did find something in a size I thought would fit, I would be stuck in the change room unable to fit in the cloths I picked. 

This is the thing of nightmares for many plus-size folks. Seriously, I have nightmares about this feeling. Not being able to fit into anything. Having pants not go up past my thighs, to not be able to get a top over my boobs.

For a long time I had hang-ups about going to plus size stores. My Mother and aunt would shop at Addition Elle and they would jokingly call it "The Fat Lady Store". I don't think they meant to give me a complex about this, but it really did end up sticking.

I'm so happy to see that with the body positive movement there are more and more stores for different body types. There was a time where fashion was limited to a size 12. If you were bigger you were stuck in Walmart jeans and oversized t-shirts. Fashionable plus-size shops were few and far between. After years of avoiding plus size stores and trying to squeeze into clothes that just weren't made for someone like me, I can now walk into plus size stores with pride and excitement to try on cloths with will fit me well. 

I'm very grateful for this as I love fashion and am a self proclaimed 'shopoholic'. When I feel down about my body I am able to simply visit my closet and put together an outfit that not only flatters my shape, but is also an expression of myself. 

 

Lizzy rocking a self-love selfie

Lizzy rocking a self-love selfie

 

Alex:

Aside from the anxiety I feel being a curvy girl, one of the other things I agonize about is the notion of feeling feminine enough, or feeling too feminine. Finding the balance of gender identity in my personal style has been something I have struggled with forever.

I remember a turning point in 3rd grade on picture day at school. My mom choose my dress (a cute pink floral number) but allowed me to wear high tops and my jean jacket that day, since neither of those things would be in the photo. By grade 4 I fully took over my fashion choices and rocked baggy overalls, a t-shirt and my reebok pumps.  

I've always been a bit of a tomboy. I struggled as a kid and teen because people want to put you in boxes and label you. In 7th grade my crush asked me if I was a lesbian because I wore ripped jeans and band t shirts. "You're not like other girls" is a phrase I have heard countless times in my life, and I never know how to feel about it.

I dug myself so firmly into the tomboy trenches that I found it really difficult to then try to accept my inner feminine side. It took me until I was 18 or 19 to wear a skirt, consider pink as an option and master the art of putting on mascara. By the time I was taking an interest in those things, I almost felt like it was "selling out" to embrace my more feminine side.

Throughout my 20's I experimented a lot with my fashion choices, especially as I started doing gigs as a vocalist. I learned quickly that there is a certain expectation, particularly in the jazz gigs I was doing, of looking the part of a "chick singer". The cocktail dress, kitten heels, perfect makeup and air of flirtation were things I found emotionally challenging to embrace. 

Even within The Spandettes it took me until this year to share with my sisters that I don't feel comfortable in sequinned dresses. That I didn't feel like myself on stage. There are so many pre-conceived notions about what a girl group looks like. How we should dress, talk and move on stage.

But once I had the courage to be open with my feelings about it, we decided collectively to embrace our personal styles more. Now I have super slick black and gold high tops to wear on stage. I'm finding my own personal style that balances hard and soft, masculine and feminine. And it feels amazing. Just as we have three distinct voices, we also have 3 distinct personalities and senses of style. Exploring that openly over the last few months has been nothing short of liberating for me.

Alex's fly new sneaks

Alex's fly new sneaks

Maggie:

Anxiety. It's not something that necessarily shows on the outside for me, but it effects my entire body. Instead of getting things done that I want/need to do, I sit (or sleep) and internally struggle. At my best I feel this hard to describe pit in my stomach and haze in my mind that's racing with doubt. At my worst I can't breathe or move and my mind spins out of control. 

When it comes to The Spandettes, this music is my therapy. When I'm on stage my mind is clear and happy. I forget everything that normally weighs on me and just live in the moment. I feel surrounded by support knowing I have a whole band to be there for me (even if I forget a lyric or harmony). I push through my anxiety because Lizzy and Alex have my back and make me realize I can do it despite feeling like I can't. 


Even writing this post has taken me hours, but knowing the girls will except whatever I write makes me write on. They are truly my sisters.

Maggie rocking it on stage  

Maggie rocking it on stage  

Most people deal with anxiety and self-doubt on the regular. We wanted to share some things that have helped us cope and feel ready to face the world, even when we are anxious or having a body-not-so-positive moment.  

Love,

the Spandettes

Let's Talk About Shame.

Let's talk about shame. We all feel it. We impose it on ourselves, we impose it on others. People can project shame on you and then it's up to you to accept that shame or brush it off. As we all know, simply deciding to brush it off is not always an option. Shame happens when we compare our actions or selves to our own or social standards. Shame is a unique emotion because it doesn't necessarily require any action. Simply being is often enough to feel shame.

This is a letter to everyone who has every felt body shame. We love you. 

If you've ever felt like you're too tall, too big or too small, If you feel you're skin is to blotchy or your hair is to curly, to straight or too wavy, we want to say to you that you are perfect. Seriously. Just the way you are.

If you've ever read through a magazine and felt ashamed that you aren't shaped like the models, we want to tell you don't need to look like the women in those glossy pages to be beautiful. That your curves move you with absolute grace, your frame carries you with perfect balance (even when your stumbling). Your beauty is unique and yes, perfect. We've all been inundated with beauty standard that are not our own our whole lives. When you look in the mirror we want you to take away the social expectations and just see your own beauty. 

If you've ever compared your present self to your past self, we want to say to you that you are perfect night now, just as you were back then. Maybe you've seen an older photo of yourself and felt ok about it, but question if you've "let yourself go" since then. Maybe you've aged, maybe you've put on weight, maybe your skin was clearer the day that photo was taken. Your body deserves care and love and nourishment, just as it is. Stretch your perfect body. Feed your perfect body and treat yourself the way you know deep down that you deserve to be treated.

If you've ever been bullied, if you've ever been shamed for something beyond your control, we want to remind you to ignore the haters. For every mean word they say they are probably saying 10 mean words to themselves. Nobody inflicts shame without thoroughly understanding the feeling in themselves. You are more than their words. You are strong and beautiful. You're self worth carries more importance than the words of anyone else.

If you've ever been slut shamed, we want to let you know that we stand by you in your self expression. Nobody gets to tell you how to feel about your body. If you are proud and comfortable with you body we are proud and thrilled for you! If you aren't as proud but choose to dress in a way that projects that confidence anyway, good for you. Show off your perfect body and don't let anyone else tell you how to express your sexuality! 

If you've ever been shamed for being to conservative, we want to remind you that the only opinion that truly matters at the end of the day is your own. You are beautiful and your choice to dress in layers, to wear a head scarf or to act in a way that makes you comfortable and happy is just that: YOUR choice! 

Shame spirals like a kaleidoscope in chaos. One negative thought circles around and picks up other negative feelings. We run over and over these thoughts and negative feelings and they can morph into darker iterations each cycle. This continues in a pattern until good feelings and bad feelings are indiscernible. We are here to remind you of the good. You are powerful and strong for fighting to love yourself as you are. We love you and we believe that there is a unique path for everyone to find self love. Shame is a feeling we all have to fight within ourselves. But it is something we can overcome if we stop putting such unattainable standards on ourselves and others. We win this fight by fighting together! 

Don't forget: magazines are airbrushed and photoshopped. Superstars have teams of people making them look the way they do. Queen Beyonce did not actually "wake up like dis". We can attest ourselves from having done a few professionally styled photoshoots that there are literally hours of time put into making those images look they way they do. These images are not a reflection of our beautiful humanity, they are designed to sell things. Magazines leverage the fact that we all feel ashamed and insecure to sell us things. The message that beauty products will make you happy translates to a multi-billion dollar industry. We want to remind you, and ourselves, that you do not need to compare yourself to those standards. You are perfect. Seriously. Just the way you are.

All of our love, 

The Spandettes

*This post was inspired by the comic above by Penny Candy. (http://www.pennycandystudios.net/)

Body Posi Role Models

We scroll though Instagram everyday whizzing past images of full Kylie lips and sponsored adds with videos detailing how to take the best selfie (see: Amy Schumer sext photographer sketch for a good laugh!) . Don't get us wrong, we love an on fleek eyebrow as much as the next Kardashian, but it's so inspiring to see a rush of diverse body positive bloggers and posters entering the social media landscape and making a real impact. 

We're just starting to wade into the waters of the Body Positive Movement and we recognize that there are hundreds, probably thousands, of role models who have been talking openly and bravely about this subject for much longer than us. We wanted to highlight a few we've been checking out and inspired by lately.

1. BodyPosiPanda @bodyposipanda www.bodyposipanda.com 

Megan is a 'recovered anorexic and recovered self-loather'. Her beauty is palpable on her website and on her insta. She posts loads of selfies with funny and apt comments like "BREAKING NEWS! BODIES CHANGE SHAPE IN DIFFERENT POSITIONS!" She also shares and re-posts images from other body posi warriors. We love her for her wit and her fearlessness to tell the truth about our unwillingness to see our own beauty. Her mission is for YOU to see YOURSELF the way she sees herself and those around her. She's a hero in our books!!

2. Plusmodelmag @plusmodelmag www.plus-model-mag.com

 

Plus Model Mag is a hugely successful fashion magazine that features plus-size models and curvy fashionistas! Their photos bring high fashion and sleek photography that is often reserved for 'regular' models. The reality is that far more women fall in the size range of 'plus size' models, so we think it's fabulous to see an inclusive and growing fashion movement for all women. Follow them on Instagram to be inspired by body positive models and designers, and to get bitten by the fashion bug! Learn all about your favourite designers, make-up tips and plus-size model news from around the world on their website. For example, did you know that everyone's favourite Project Runway Winner Ashley Tipton has partnered with JCPenny as a brand ambassador for a new plus-size line? Well now you do because of the PlusModel trending News Tab!

3. HonorCurves @honorcurves

This 6'2" self-love advocate is not afraid to lay down some hard truths about the way we treat ourselves. In a recent post she posed in work-out gear with the caption "For every time I forged a note to get out of gym class. For every time I said I was the non-athlectic friend. For every time I sat out an activity because I believed I wasn't the right skill level or size for it…" She is an inspiration for every girl who ever said "I Can't", reminding you that, "Yes you can". She's funny and supportive, just scroll through her IG account and we promise you'll feel great!

Do you have another Body Posi Warrior you think we should know about? Please let us know! you can email us @ thespandettes@gmail.com.

xo

The Spandettes

 

 

Angie Hilts: Business, Brains & Body Image

We had the pleasure of sitting down with band leader Angie Hilts to talk about music, the industry, performing and body image. Our very own Lizzy Clarke took some photos with this Toronto talent and we got to hear all about the city's thriving Western Swing scene. 

Angie is an accomplished musician, song writer and band leader. She runs the well established group The Rucksack Willies who have been playing regularly in Toronto at The Cameron House, The Dakota Tavern and other venues and festivals since 2007. She is also a member of the group The Double Cuts, one of Toronto's most genial Western Swing bands.

"There is a huge following in the western swing scene in Toronto! Our gigs are always packed with dancers and fans dressed to the nines in their best rockabilly outfits. It's amazing!" Says Angie.

We've noticed she has been running The Rucksack Willies with a level of class and professionalism not often seen in the music industry.

Angie on running a band:

"There's only so many hours in a day to get everything done, I thrive on creativity and a lot of the things I do to keep my projects moving forward are not creative and are more business oriented, it can be draining but ultimately, it's worth it."

"[Angie] has always been great at creating relationships with venue owners and clients that are long-lasting, she has created many opportunities for the band" Says long time friend and Rucksack Willies band member Megan Thomas.

We know the struggle of balancing your creativity with taking care of business well. As any woman running a business knows, there can be subtle gender biases that are normalized and considered acceptable. For female musicians sometimes it's being called 'sweetheart' by a venue owner. Sometimes it's being talked down to, and other times it's simply being ignored or talked over during a meet and greet. 

We spoke with Angie about how it feels to be a hard working woman in the music industry.

"It is difficult to assert yourself into a male dominated world and represent this group of people. I represent each member of the band when I'm booking a gig or applying for a grant or doing anything to create momentum for all of us. This is a big responsibility."

This struggle can at times be compounded by adding body image issues in the mix. The juxtaposition of wanting to be assertive to be respected in a industry where women are expected to be lovely and sweet makes learning to accept ourselves properly and dispel the idea that we have to look a certain way to be successful very difficult to do.

Angie spoke to us about her photo session with Lizzy and feeling insecure.

"I'm always fighting against my own insecurities. It's hard to put myself first sometimes. Sitting down and talking about these issues and taking these empowering photos was the first time I felt that was possible in a while. It made me realize it's ok to be who I am and be comfortable with that. I'm working up the courage to start my own solo project and I'm really scared shitless about that!

I've always felt a little on the spot and I'm very aware of the pressure to perform and present myself in a certain way. It's a blessing and a curse because the feeling of getting on stage is exhilarating. When I'm performing I love the feeling of sharing something authentic and honest."

Her work ethic, her tenacity and her talent make Angie an inspiration in our books. We are so moved by her honest approach to performance and her positive outlook. For us she represents all the strong and hard working woman in this beautiful city. You can learn more about Angie by visiting her bands' websites: www.therucksackwillies.com and www.thedoublecuts.com. follow her @angiehilts for updates about her solo project and upcoming gigs!

xo

The Spandettes

Love Yo'Self

We three are insanely lucky when it comes to love. We get to pursue our dreams and the music that we love, we are surrounded by friends and family who love us and we have each other. We are spoiled when it come to love. Most people can easily talk about the qualities they love in others, so why is it that so many of us struggle to love and accept ourselves in the same unconditional way? We want to explore this a question, as we’re eager to join the body positive movement and help ourselves and others bring a little more self-love to the party. Loving your body is a lifelong battle for most people, both men and women alike. We can only speak from the experience of being women, so that is how we will frame what contribute to this conversation. So read on knowing this is only half the story.

Lizzy on loving others: 

"When I think about how I love my friends, my parter or my family I find myself with a stupid grin on my face. Maybe I'm on the bus, or buying a coffee and I just think about someone I love. I zone out and glaze over with a blurry eyed smile that probably makes me seem insane to anyone in the surrounding area. Seriously, this happens all the time. I'm so lucky it's ridiculous."  

All three of us feel this way. We love love and we're not afraid to spread the word! We don't write all of this just to brag about our lives and all the love get to give and recieve. We write about this to illustrate how ridiculous it is that when we look in the mirror we sometimes don't see love. We don't always see respect, talent, beauty or passion like we see when we look at our friends and each other. In fact, sometimes we don't see anything. Sometimes we look away. And we know this is something most people can relate to.

Maggie on body image:

“My first body image struggle was about my skin. I didn’t want to leave the house without 'putting on my face'. I chose not to wear pants because the skin on my legs would get so dry it could crack. I would avoid showing my back and chest because they are covered in imperfections like pimples and moles. Not embracing my skin for what it is and instead covering it up, only made it worse. It’s a never ending cycle. 

My health is the other reason I’ve gone through self loathing. People assume because I'm ‘skinny’ that I have a eating disorder or that I do drugs. I LOVE food and have never even tried a cigarette. I was recently diagnosed with celiac disease, which for someone who's main diet was always gluten, has been a real eye opener. The thing I loved most was actually causing me pain and making me very sick. The problem is, when something is hurting you on the inside, people can't tell on the outside why you’re always going to bed early or not wanting to leave the house. Before finding out I had celiac, I was exhausted and constantly had stomach attacks. This lead to loosing too much weight, mood swings and anxiety. Celiac doesn't allow you to absorb nutrients from food, so whatever food did stay in me wasn't being absorbed. It can also cause, wouldn't ya know it, skin problems.”

All three of us have struggled with body image and feeling beautiful in our own ways. Some days we can get close, but the love we're able to express is full of exceptions. "I love you except for that stupid thing you said at work yesterday.” "I love you except for the way you acted while fighting with your boyfriend.” "I love you except for your double chin.” Believe us, we could go on.

Alex on body image: 

“Growing up I was never a petit or super thin kid. I was the tallest person in my class (including the boys) until grade 5 or 6. And I was a total tomboy. I think that was partly because I wanted to to be treated like an equal by the boys, but if I’m honest, a big part of it was feeling more comfortable hiding in baggy overalls and ripped jeans instead of trying to dress cute like the other girls. For as long as I can remember I have hated having a little extra in my mid-section, and that was only exacerbated when I had a baby and got the dreaded stretch marks all over my lower stomach. I’ve had to work really hard to accept my post-baby body, which I think a lot of moms feel. Why is it that moms have such a hard time thanking our bodies for doing literally the hardest thing it can do? I’m trying to learn to thank my body for the things it has accomplished, and slowly that’s helping me build a better body positive image of myself.” 

Lizzy on body image:

“From a young age we are bombarded by feminine ideals instead of reality. When I learned about cellulite I was horrified. When I realized I have cellulite and there's nothing I can do about it, I was destroyed. I was 12 and I considered myself less valuable. When I grew to be 5'9" and realized I would never feel cute and petite like the women on TV, I felt like a monster. This kind of lifelong exposure to self deprecating thoughts and habits wears on a person. You can't just look into the mirror one day after realizing that the patriarchy has been controlling the media and our sense of self is based off of one small group of people defining what a woman should look like and say ‘Oh shit! I'm actually awesome. I've been wrong all these years. I love you!’ ”

Let’s make it better together:

So this is our challenge to you, as well as ourselves. Look in the mirror once a day and say "I love you" to yourself. Just try it. Break down those walls that have been built up in your head constantly saying “you would be better if…”

If that's too hard, start small. Recognize something about yourself everyday that you do love. "I love the way I am killing it at work!" or "I love the way my hair looks today.“ Then think about the way you love others. Think about how easy it is when you love someone to accept them as a full person. Imperfections and all. Love is not made up of exceptions, it is all inclusive. It applies to you too.

As for us, we plan to re-define what used to wear us down and repossess our self worth! Our anxiety over cellulite will become "I love my curves and booty!” Instead of thinking of ourselves as too skinny, not skinny enough, too tall, not good enough, even monsters, we are choosing the perspective that we are amazons who are just the right size, with just the right qualities to contribute to the world.

Just try it. Try to look in the mirror and say "I love you" with the same genuine expression that you extend to your loved ones. It’s very hard. But it’s something we could all benefit from. The old adage of “fake it ’til you make it” might actually apply to loving yourself too. Maybe at first you will have to force yourself to express self love. But maybe in time we will all feel it like a new little voice constantly in our heads that no longer chirps about being better/more/different and now coos little love poems to us about all the amazing things we already are.

All our love and acceptance,

The Spandettes 

xoxoxo

Meet Glenn - The Original MANDETTE

Today we met up with one our favourite fans for a lunch hang and picked his brain about what it means to be a Mandette, a term he coined.

S: Let's go back to the beginning, How did you hear about us?

G: It all started when I went to a free show at Harbourfront during Panamania last summer. I was there to see Kawehi a musican from Hawaii, I was wearing my favourite Hawaiian shirt, it was a warm "Lover's Summer Day", haha. I made sure to get down there early and check out the opening act, which was you guys!

S: That was such a coincidence, we were filling in last minute for a band from China that had to cancel, which is why we were in an acoustic format.

G: I didn't know that, very cool. I remember there was one song that I was jamming to, playing hand rhythms on the chair in front of me.

S: So fast forward. We were so stoked when we saw you using the hashtag #Mandette on social media. Our whole vibe is about inclusivity and individuality (our motto is Sequins For All People Equal). Can you describe what it is to be a Mandette?

G: At first it started off as just a play on words, being a male fan of The Spandettes. When I bought the CD I just thought of it. But over time, I guess it changed into someone who isn't afraid to be themselves. 

S: Let's dig into that a bit. Have you felt like society has set definitions of how people are supposed to be?

G: Yeah, definitely. Growing up I struggled with societies' definition of masculinity. And I found it hard to be myself because I knew I deviated a bit from the norm. I had been ridiculed and bullied, and ultimately, that made it hard to be myself. Like as a man who doesn't fit in the normal masculine box I was labelled in different ways. I'm a vibrant, colourful person, and I don't need to fit a mold.

S: How do you live the life of a Mandette?

G: One way that I try and embody the message is just everyday, wherever I am, being myself. It's really important to love yourself and be confident. Embrace your quirks, because that's what makes you stand out. When I discovered you guys I instantly connected with your authenticity. I think that's something that's lacking these days in a world where people try to be something they're not. I want to inspire people to just be themselves. One quote I think about a lot was when I was at a Metric concert and Emily Haines said, "whoever has the most fun wins". That's something that comes to mind when I feel the energy that you guys bring to a show, it's just that fun vibe. 

S: Any advice to the Mandettes of the world?

G: Dance like no one's watching. Because everyone's on their phones and they're not really watching anyways! A Mandette is someone who just doesn't give a f**k who's watching, he or she is going to have fun anyway. It's your life, and your fun. If someone is watching you and caring enough to make fun of you or bully you, it's their loss. 

 



New Music Video!

With no budget, not a ton of time, and a new single about to drop, what's an indie band to do? Reach out to fans and friends! We're so proud of this new record (Sequin Sunrise) we have coming out in March. We spent every last cent of grant, kickstarter and general band funds to make a record on par with any major label offering, leaving very little left to make a video. Lucky for us we have amazingly talented people in our corner who were willing to put themselves out there and sing or dance along to our new single, "Over Me".

Enjoy the video below! Any one of these lovelies could be a youtube star in their own right! Read about the cast below the video.

The cast:

Fly Lady Di: Diana is one of Toronto's finest dancers! She has danced live with us and helped us get our stage choreo together before our tour in Japan this past fall.

Anthony Bird: Anthony is one of our sweetest fans. He plays us on his UK based online radio show, sent us christmas gifts, and was the very first to submit his Over Me entry.

Glenn Tavas: Glenn has been such a supportive and loyal local fan. He comes to all our shows, invents hashtags for us (#mandette, #sequinsisters, #sequinsgreetings etc), and poured his heart and soul into his lip-sync performance.

Hailey & Alyssa: These talented young sisters study music with Alex and choreographed a routine for the whole song!

Emily: The youngest star in our video, Emily's passionate freestyle dance moves can melt the coldest of hearts :)

Nevon and Tracey: Nevon is a singer and vocal coach and Tracey is an actor. So it's no surprise that these jokers delivered pure gold start to finish. Make sure you watch a couple of their outtakes at the end, we had to choose a couple of moments from several minutes of hilarity.

Puppets: We had a cute little band brunch before Christmas, and after a couple of mimosas, someone came up with the idea of having some puppets and stuffed animals make cameos in the video. We definitely had some good laughs filming this part ourselves!


Tokyo Times a.k.a. #Spandokyo

Having had a little bit of time to reflect and think back on our whirlwind trip to Tokyo, we wanted to write a blog post and share a few memories!

We arrived, jet-lagged and excited and were immediately treated with so much respect and kindness by our hosts at Billboard Live. They picked us up and took us to our hotel, where we had a stellar view of the Tokyo Tower.

(From the left: Cab selfie, Tokyo Tower, Airplane wine selfie, our ride in Tokyo)

After some incredible sushi, drinks and a short walk, we all passed out for the night. The next day we had soundcheck and then two awesome back-to-back shows. Both of the audiences were amazing (and a couple of people even had tickets to both performances). We were humbled by how attentive our Japanese fans are! They cheered for every song, sang along and stuck around for autographs after the shows.

(Backstage at Billboard Live)

(The entrance to Billboard Live)

The day after our shows we girls had the honour of doing interviews with Cafe Paradiso on J-Wave FM (as well as an acoustic performance), Mikiki Magazine and Figaro Magazine. We also stopped by Tower Records to write a love note to our fans and take a few photos with our listening booth. We had a really fun photo shoot in the rain with umbrellas too!  That night most of us (who weren't absolutely exhausted) went for a night of private room Karaoke, which was epic! We had drinks, celebrated and sang our hearts out. After Karaoke we went to McDonalds to try the famous Japanese Teriyaki Burger (did we mention we had a few drinks?) and were floored when our song came over the speakers and we were asked for more autographs by people who realized it was our band playing.

(At Tower Records in Shibuya)

(Our interview at J-Wave FM)

We had a couple of days to hang out and enjoy Tokyo. We went to the arcade, shopped in Harajuku, a couple of the guys went to a baseball game, and we ate all of the delicious japanese food that we could!

We had an absolute blast in Tokyo and we can't wait to return to Japan!! Big love and thank yous go out to our hosts at Billboard Live and our Japanese label P-Vine.

xo

The Spandettes

 

 

 

Coffee Shop Tour Round 2: Dupont Coffee Shop

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With our second cafe tour stop today, we had a nice chat with the brand new Dupont Coffee Shop and picked their brain about why they LOVE coffee as much as we do!

S= Spandettes D= Dupont Coffee Shop


S: What kind of coffee do you serve? Any reasons why?

D: We roast in Creemore Ontario with a local Roaster. The family is committed to Community and the environment equally & they LOVE what they do. Aside from the fact that they are fantastic roasters, I feel it exceedingly important to support local and regional businesses.
 

S: What involvement do you have in the local community?

D: The response from the local Junction Triangle Area has been absolutely unparalleled in anything that Ive been associated with. Daily posts on FB, messages, reviews, calls and invitations to participate in community events. In just 5 weeks we have participated in 2 separate school fundraisers, a pop up lunch program with a local chef, a feature film to be shot on location shortly, the Canada Day fireworks donations and your afternoon event! Not to mention local area businesses that support us daily and loyally.

S: What involvement do you have with the arts in Toronto? Why is this important to you?

D: Toronto is a vast city full of ethnic, cultural & dynamic beauty.  Supporting smaller theaters such as FOX in the Beaches, or Tuesday evening Concertos at Casa Loma are but a few of my personal favorites.

S: What challenges have you faced as a small business in the city?

D: There are no real challenges. We set our minds to providing a quality product delivered by the friendliest & most educated staff possible. They each uniquely have a personal commitment to the growth of our success.

S: Is there anything unique about your cafe?

D: The most unique aspect is the relaxed and casual atmosphere with that welcoming fresh brewed smell :)

ᐧBe sure to stop by this afternoon and check out our little acoustic set! And come support a great (and new!) small local business.

xo

Alex, Maggie & Lizzy

 

Coffee Shop Mini Tour Starts July 5th @ Holy Oak

 

After wrapping recording our album recently (stay tuned for our album launch party announcement) we just wanted to have a relaxed summer playing some chill little acoustic shows at some of the coolest little cafes in town.

It makes all kinds of sense for our first show to be at Bloor West's darling spot the Holy Oak. Almost every young musician in town has done small shows there at some point, and they have become known as a cafe and bar that supports local music and art in general.

We decided to reach out to the cafes we're playing at and ask them a few questions. Here's what Holy Oak had to say:

S= Spandettes HO= Holy Oak

S: What kind of food/drink do you serve? Any reasons why?

HO: We serve a bunch of tasty drinks. some boozy and some not. We are a cafe by day and bar by night, but you know... the lines blur. There are also some snacks on offering. 

(S: We've tried a grill cheese there, and can highly recommend!)

S: What involvement do you have in the local community? What about the arts in Toronto? Why is this important to you?

HO: We are a local community hub. Since 2009 we've been a gathering place for people in the neighbourhood and a place where local live music flourishes. We have always loved music. The expressions of the inexpressible need space. 

S: What challenges have you faced as a small business in the city?

HO: As a small business, it's not an easy task in toronto where rent climbs as high as it can. There is also more and more competition in the neighbourhood which is both a good and bad thing.

S: Is there anything unique about Holy Oak?

HO: The uniqueness of holy oak is in the feeling you get in the room. It feels warm. As a bar, we could have been a black hole with rock and roll, but that is old and tired. People are ready for us. ;)

Be sure to come check us out singing a bunch of brand new songs and a few classics with our keys player Thomas Francis @ Holy Oak (1241 Bloor St W) on Sunday July 5th @ 5 pm. No cover, but we'll have a vinyl fund jar!

click here for event DETAILS

 

 

 

Studio Diary: Day 4

Today was our 4th day in the studio tracking vocals and now the horns are here to do their part on the next three songs for the record.

Today we wanted to talk about how things don't always go the way you plan in the studio- and in life! Today we just struggled on all levels. We were coughing and clearing our throats, feeling emotional and overwhelmed, feeling frustrated with not nailing the parts easily...

What happens in the studio is this thing where it feels like singing under a microscope. You have headphones on playing the track, usually with one ear on and one ear off to hear some of your own voice in the room as well as it's being recorded. It can feel very unnatural when you are used to singing on a stage or just unplugged. We're total pro's but today we struggled! 

But like anything in life, there's timelines and budgets and things to accomplish, so you have to do whatever it takes on a psychological level to get back in the zone and deliver. Somehow you have to check all of those worries and personal issues at the door and just vibe it out.

Today we had a few tears, some massive group hugs, some serious dancing in our vocal booths and lots of good talks about embracing our individual voices and loving what we each have to bring to the table- and it worked! We got it done, and things sound great!

Tomorrow is our last day of tracking and we're so excited to come back with a fresh perspective and wrap up this amazing record.

xo

Alex, Maggie & Lizzy

 

 

 

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Studio Diary: Day 2 - Meet our new bass player!

Today we're back recording 5 more bed tracks! That is a whole lot of music to do in one day. It's going to be a marathon, but we're ready!

We thought today would be a good day to introduce you to our new bass player Mike Meusel. He's been playing with us for a few months now, and has been such a great fit for the band. He brings so much energy and enthusiasm to the music, and he even contributed a song to the new record! It's called "Over Me" and we can't wait for you all to hear it.

For these studio days, Mike brought 4 different electric basses to capture different textures for different songs.

For the gear heads, we thought we would ask Mike to talk about each bass and why he chose them. In his own words:

"I brought a Fender Precision 5 string, Fender Aerodyne, Squire Precision and a Tokai Hard Puncher, which is basically a copy of a Fender in the 70's.  

I needed a more aggressive sounding 5-string than my regular 5, so I brought that Fender Precision 5.  Some songs just need a low B string, ya know? The Fender Aerodyne has a super aggressive tone, and worked really well on tunes like "Mister Mister" and "Little Late".  My old Squire Precision has seen a lot of studio time, and was actually the first bass I ever purchased, and sold, and bought back.  It has a good old school tone, super dead strings and is a great reggae bass when eq'd with lots of low end.   The last is the Tokai Hard Puncher, which I only used on one track.  It has a decent slap tone, which I needed for the track." 

 

Mike having fun times
Mike chillin'