About this story

Name: Jessica
Troop name: Empowerment Circle at Youville Centre
Country: Canada

We are the women from the Empowerment Circle treatment group at Youville Centre; a group of
young mothers focused on raising awareness about, and challenging, the unrealistic beliefs and
negative judgments around young moms and their postpartum bodies and responsibilities. We
hope, through our Action Project, to better represent realistic experiences of young moms and the
strengths that they show, each day in parenting and navigating life.

In our Action Project, we:
– wrote persuasive letters to both the Executive Director and Clinical Supervisor of
Youville Centre
– planned, designed, and distributed a poster awareness initiative around our centre to
foster understanding and empowerment of young moms to free themselves from negative
stigma and body image pressure, and move towards self-acceptance
– drafted a trigger warning to any correspondence we had with our peers as we have come
to recognize how prevalent body image issues are in our community and delivered our
initiatives in a trauma-informed way
– shared a powerful video focused on reframing the negative perceptions mother’s often
have of their bodies to be positive and empowering that we admired
– challenged our fellow peers to tell someone in their life about one thing they like or
appreciate about themselves on the inside (ex. courage or strength – think interests, or
values) and one thing they like or appreciate about themselves on the outside (ex. your
eyes or your smile – think features or skills/abilities)
– shared a therapeutic resource with the support of our facilitators and challenged our
peers to reflect on the concept of self-appreciation
– invited others to join our mission and challenge the skewed, unhealthy, and unrealistic
standards of postpartum bodies in young women that we have experienced which opened
up the possibilities of deeper communication/connection

Overall, we have learned to value of being dedicated to our group and our mission. We
accomplished so much because we continuously were voicing out opinions, checking in, and
listening to each other. We wanted everyone to find something in our Action Project they could
connect with whether it be a video, a challenge, a journal activity, or viewing our posters; we
offered different ways of engaging with our message. We are learning to embrace our bodies
with positivity, or at least with neutrality – and we recognize the toll the image myth was taking
on our small community at Youville Centre. We deeply value and recognize the power that
choice, collaboration, and empowerment have on body confidence. We believe our efforts have
helped to normalized the difficulty young women have emotionally and physically when
transitioning to motherhood. We not only recognizes that using our voice is powerful but also
necessary to challenge the negative messages young mothers receive from society about
themselves, their bodies, and their worth.
We want young mothers around the world to know: you are not alone in the struggle of
motherhood and that you are not defined by the way you look, you are so much more.

Empowerment Circle
Youville Centre
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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