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Building body image one selfie at a time

Unique downtown space celebrates individuality

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Artist Kal Barteski takes a selfie in the glassed-in space she created to promote positive body-image messages. The space is at the Women's Health Clinic on Graham Avenue.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Artist Kal Barteski takes a selfie in the glassed-in space she created to promote positive body-image messages. The space is at the Women's Health Clinic on Graham Avenue. Photo Store

While Dale Ingram and James Baty strolled downtown Saturday, they stopped at 419 Graham Ave., intrigued by what they saw.

The Women's Health Clinic looked like it had been vandalized, but not by petty criminals. One very talented calligraphist named Kal Barteski had painted over the clinic's windows and door with dozens of body-positive sayings, such as "healthy at every size," "naked I am strong," and "this body is a good body."

She painted a few simple instructions on the sidewalk, too, which Ingram and Baty were happy to oblige. First, take a selfie in the clinic's window. Then, upload the photo online while sharing what you love about your body using the hashtag #HEARTeveryBODY.

'We want to get the word out that every body is a bikini body -- every body is a good body'

"This really promotes body awareness and acceptance, which I think is good -- we need that," said Ingram. "There's so much emphasis on the body now, right? But I think we're gradually, slowly becoming more accepting of women who are not at a perfect size zero or two."

The #HEARTeveryBODY project, which was unveiled Friday and will stay up for three months, is meant to encourage self-acceptance, said Amy Tuckett, communications specialist for the Women's Health Clinic.

The project was launched during the summer because it's easy to self-sabotage with swimsuit season on the brain.

"We really wanted to do something in summer to show people that you can love your body and really surround people with body-positive messaging," said Tuckett. "We want to get the word out that every body is a bikini body — every body is a good body."

What Barteski thought would be a two-day paint job turned into a four-day project, as writing backwards on the windows was more difficult than it seemed.

"I would write backwards and then come out here and realize, 'Oh, I spelled it wrong,' and have to go back and try and fix it up," said Barteski, who learned a fair share about herself during the trial-and-error process.

"When they asked me to do it, I was like, 'Oh, sure! I don't really have a body-image problem.' But then you start thinking about your body and you think, 'Hmm, maybe I do?' "

The clinic wants to emphasize body self-consciousness extends beyond gender, and anyone at any age can be affected.

Baty said he appreciated the all-inclusive effort.

"All these positive feelings and thoughts are astounding," he said, while spinning to glimpse every angle of the artwork.

"I love the thought that this person had to write out all of these good thoughts."

jessica.botelho-urbanski@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 3, 2014 A3

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