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Siera Bearchell: From Miss Universe Canada to Body Positive Activist

Siera Bearchell and her baby
Siera Bearchell and her baby

Former Miss Universe Canada and law school graduate Siera Bearchell didn’t purposefully become a body positive activist. However, after experiencing extreme cyberbullying about her body through social media while on the international stage of Miss Universe, she knew she had to use her voice to stand up for not only herself, but all others who weren’t confident in their skin. Now as a new mom, she aims to continue spreading body positivity.

Mediaplanet: There is constant pressure to be an idealistic size that society has deemed most attractive and it’s so easy to compare your body to those of other women. What helped you come to understand that your body was beautiful and empowered you to be confident in your skin?

Siera Bearchell pageant

Siera Bearchell: It took me years to be confident in my skin and understand that the things I thought I had to change were just part of who I was at that particular time. For example, I have never had thin and toned legs. Even when I was treating my body poorly by eating very little and exercising obsessively, my legs did not have the appearance of models who walk famous runways. It just isn’t my build. And that’s okay!

We are programmed to believe we will never be enough until we have particular measurements and fit into a certain size. Once I started to realize that we all have insecurities (even famous models), and that we will never be enough until WE believe we are enough, I started to love the things I wanted to change before. I also realized that people remember us for our personalities, our humour, how we make people feel, and not the size if our waist. Happiness is not found in numbers on a scale!

As former Miss Universe Canada, you’ve become an important voice for body positivity. What personal experiences did you draw on that motivated you to become an activist?

I never saw myself becoming an activist or a voice for body positivity. When I was at Miss Universe, people were commenting things on my social media like, ‘Fat Queen,’ ‘Miss Piggy Universe,’ ‘You don’t deserve a place anywhere let alone at Miss Universe,’ and the list goes on. I started to receive messages from young women who said things like, ‘If they say these things about you, what would they say about me?’  I realized then that I needed to stand up for myself and any other woman who has ever felt as though she is not good enough or doesn’t fit in because of what she looks like or what her body shape is.

What are the most important messages that you want your followers to understand?

Your happiness does not lie with some magic number on the scale or a size of clothing. You are so much more than a set of numbers. Focus on and embrace the things you love about yourself rather than the things you want to change. Soon you will hopefully realize that those things you want to change make you unique and make you, you.

You have such a positive message you share through your social media, however as you know, no one is safe from trolls and haters. How do you ignore negativity and harness your inner confidence?

Ignoring haters can be super difficult sometimes. Especially when they target my character or my family (especially my daughter!). I always try to tell myself that this negative person must be going through something challenging in their own life or be unhappy because happy people do not spread hate online. It’s easier said than done, but I always remind myself to keep posting and sharing because if I gave in to the hate, I would be giving them what they want — for me to quit and give up!

As a law graduate, you must have experienced high academic pressure while in school. What strategies did you learn and use to keep your mental wellness a top priority?

For me, running and yoga have always been my method to keep my mental wellness in check. Even still, when I am feeling down, anxious, stressed, or upset, I go for a walk or run (with a jogging stroller these days!). Fresh air and just moving always help my mind to clear.

Being a new mom with so many experiences of your own involving body image, what values do you hope to instill in your daughter?

I want my daughter to know that she is so much more than her physical body. She means more to people than what she looks like. She has more to offer the world than her beauty. I always want her to know that it’s normal for her body to change depending on what she is going through in her life. Whether she is growing, or going through a stressful time, it is normal to change.

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