Kelsey McEwen is delivering more than just the daily forecast.
“In the last five days, I’ve had a woman ask if I’m pregnant, and another tell me I have a gut,” she began her impassioned thread. “I’ve had a plethora of opinions about my clothing, hair, makeup. This is just a sampling of the opinions I field about my appearance. Let me make two things crystal clear. 1: my body is not your concern. 2: my body is not your concern.”
“If someone else’s shape offends you, that’s about you and your own issues, and you need to keep it to yourself. It’s not ‘well intentioned.’ It’s not ‘doing them a favour,’” McEwen continued. “My body is mine… My body has been bigger and smaller. My body has been stronger and weaker. My body has grown and birthed two babies My body has bruises and scars. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I want to change it. But it is mine. NOT yours.”
The morning show personality’s rally cry resonated with her more than 11,000 followers, with many praising McEwen for taking a stand against body shaming and body criticism.
“Next time you go tell someone that you don’t like how they look, whether it is a TV person or someone in your actual life, don’t. Full stop. Delete your comment. Unfollow them if you don’t want to see,” she said. “And then, most importantly, go work on yourself.”
For McEwen, body positivity and reestablishing how women are viewed in our culture are topics she works tirelessly to promote.
“This is a conversation I have as often as I can,” she told Yahoo Canada. “I think it’s really important to change the narrative surrounding women’s worth. We’re told so often as women that our worth lies in how we look, our age, our ability to have children and it’s just not true. Our worth is so much more interesting and varied, and we need to take back that narrative.”
McEwen says growing older and gaining confidence has helped her build the vocabulary to express her belief in gender equality.
“I’ve learned that I’m so much more than what society has historically said women should be,” McEwen revealed. “We hear so often when we’re growing up that women should be quiet and make other people feel comfortable, that we should be the caregivers and supporters in the world, but I’m a leading lady. I want to be a leading lady, and I want that for other women as well.”
Although she has built a successful career in front of the camera, McEwen is well aware that women face similar challenges and criticisms on a daily basis regardless of their profession. While many people have encouraged her to ignore her critics, the mother-of-two says she feels a sense of responsibility to use her public platform to affect change.
“I hope to give people the courage to stand up. When there’s mold in a basement, you have to renovate, get rid of the walls and fix the problem. We have to approach negativity in the same way,” McEwen explained. “If we really want to see change, if we really want to be treated differently as women or equally as women, we have to change the narrative. Those conversations can be hard and uncomfortable, but they’re worth it.”
Whether online or off, McEwen says it’s important to reassess the language we use when talking to one another and break the “bad habit” of complimenting women on their looks.
“I’m even guilty of it. I think of how I interact with the incredible, smart, talented and hardworking women in my life and how quick I am to compliment them on their appearance,” she admitted. “For the men in my life, I ask them about the headlines of the day, how their weekend was or how their family is or their interests and I do it without thinking.”
By eliminating our appearance as a topic of conversation, McEwen believes women have the ability to redefine society’s perception of their value, and establish their own sense of worth.
“Our value lies in our minds, our hearts … our emotion. All of these things that we’re told that are bad about us, what if we say instead, ‘That’s what makes us valuable’?” she said. “We’d be superheroes if we thought of each other and ourselves that way!”
It will undoubtedly take time to untangle ourselves from years of messaging that purport a woman’s looks as her main source of value, but McEwan is 100 per cent up for the task.
“I challenge myself, the people around me and people around the world to talk to women differently. Catch yourself before you go to compliment a woman about their appearance, and talk to them about something different. See where the conversation goes,” McEwen said. “I imagine there will be much more interesting conversations, because we are so much more interesting than how we look.”