Sick of beating yourself up over how you look?
The Succulent Six have arrived to SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF. This group of gorgeous women question the idea of one “right” body shape and celebrate beauty at ANY size. The six are Steff Ivory Conover, Ashley Sharman, Annika Reid, Belle Jumelles and Rachel Marcus – together they aim to help end weight discrimination, size bias and fat phobia. They champion a day free from diets and obsessions about body weight, and they’re coming to spread the word via CBC and their new mobile app on February 27th.
We caught up with them this week.
SDTC: What is the backstory? Who are the Succulent Six and how did they come to join forces?
Ivory: 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. 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.
What is the aim of the group?
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.
Why was it important for you to get this series out into the world?
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.
Have you always been body positive? If not, what/who helped you to become so?
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. Ivory, for one, found self-love through being on stage. 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.
What are you tired hearing of when it comes to cultural attitudes about bodies?
We are SO tired of hearing that fat equals unhealthy. So tired of the old stereotypes that just because you’re bigger, you must be unfit or eat poorly. Most of us (in the Succulent Six) are athletes – from trained dancers, yogis, basketball players and horseback riders to professional burlesque dancers. Every one of us stays active, and most of us eat cleaner than your average person! We just happen to have bigger bodies, and we’ve learned to care for (and love) every inch of them.
We want to see this conversation change to realize 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, care and consideration as any other human. We’re tired of seeing bigger bodies treated as pariahs, as outcasts, as lesser than. Every BODY is beautiful.
What do you want audiences to take away from your series?
We want audiences to feel empowered to live their best lives in watching our series. To get up off the couch and get out there and see the world, to stop hiding, to take the trip of a lifetime, to wear the clothing you’ve always wanted to (but thought you couldn’t) or to 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 helps people go for their dreams, to live their lives to the fullest, and to feel empowered, then we’ve done our job! We are big. We are strong. We are beautiful. And we have grown to be PROUD of who we are. We invite our viewers to feel the same.
What do you love most about being in the Succulent Six?
Ivory: Personally, my favourite part about being in the Succulent Six is the sense of community and camaraderie. There’s nothing like being surrounded by a bevy of plus-sized, bodacious amazon women, all while going into a challenge or a mission together that will push our limits for the better. All my life I was looking for myself in other people, and all of a sudden these women come along and although we’re all so very different, I can see so much of myself in each of them. It’s truly incredible.
Ashley: In seeing myself in each of these beautiful women, my eyes have been opened to the work I have done in my journey thus far, as well as the work I still have to do. With each of us allowing ourselves to step forward so openly and honestly in our work (and play) together, I have been blessed with the opportunity to see a spectrum of qualities, strengths and abilities in women that I have never seen before.
We are all so similar in some regards yet so different in others. These varying qualities have held up that “mirror” for me to look within and see where more energy flow is needed, acting as encouragement, challenge and support while also opening my heart to extending this reach to other women, other PEOPLE who could use the same.
Belle: My favourite part about being in the Succulent Six has been getting to know this group of women (and our guests). I love getting to know new people, especially when we are so different. Each of us comes from a different background and with different experiences, so we’re all learning things from each other every time we get together. We’ve all grown so much since we first got together in 2016 and this show has really helped us all push ourselves to try new things and discuss important topics! It’s been great!
Rachel: I love being a part of a crew of bad gyals! The women of the Succulent Six are brilliant, resilient and fearless! We are women of different cultures, religions and sexual preferences, yet we wake up every day walking into the world with the same shame placed upon our heads, [that] we’re fat and unhealthy. That is exactly the mindset that provokes us to shatter the walls of ignorance and display images of REAL WOMEN! We are a group of women reminding one another that our only possible limitation is our own mindsets. So what I really love is being amongst a group of fly queens with crowns tilted to match our swag and enough booty to allow that crown to bounce off and into the hands of my sisters if ever it falls off.
Annika: I cannot sum up in a few words why I love being a part of The Succulent Six, but I will say this: Growing up I was always the “big” one amongst all my friends. I had to shop at specialized stores and I always felt out of place when we would go to public places like the mall or dances.
Being a part of the Succulent Six is like a redemption of [what I missed in] childhood. Finally I get to hang with beautiful, bold, unapologetic women and make a difference in the name of body positivity.
Being a part of this group for me has been life changing and has healed parts of me I forgot were broken. And the best part is we help inspire positive change in others, too.
Catch The Succulent Six on CBC.ca and the CBC app on February 27th.