An Interview With Model and Body Positive Ambassador Jody Heakes
I first noticed Jody Heakes in March at the Hayley Elsaesser runway show in Toronto. Among a slew of originally good-looking people in Big Lebowski inspired looks, there she was — a doe-eyed, curvaceous pale angel. I had two thoughts; 1) we're wearing the same socks yay and 2) I want to be her friend. This is a specific and rare feeling that certain models can evoke to their viewers, and I knew I wanted more people to know about her special effect in fashion.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Heakes, and she was just as lovely as I had day-dreamed. Read more below.
Favourite Instagram accounts right now?
It know it’s pretty corny, but my friends inspire me a ton and they have some of my favourite Instagrams. I went to an arts high school so I got to meet some really cool, creative individuals.
Best shows on Netflix?
I just finished binge watching 2 seasons of Cuckoo, a hilarious British comedy starring Andy Samberg and Taylor Lautner. It’s one of the funniest, most underrated shows I’ve watched in a while and I would definitely recommend it to anyone with a satirical sense of humour. Netflix just re-added The Office so I’ve been watching that too for about the hundredth time. I also like Grace and Frankie, The Mindy Project, Dexter, The Walking Dead and Luther.
Best way to spend your Sunday?
Most Sundays, my mom and I go and see a movie. It’s a nice way for us to catch up and unwind after a long week.
Botticelli for sure. I’ve always adored Renaissance art- I begged my mom to take me to Italy when i was a teenager just for the galleries. I love paintings of the female figure, which Botticelli mastered. The Birth of Venus and Madonna of the Book are two of my favourite paintings.
Favourite thing about social media?
I love the body positivity movement. It’s wonderful to see women of all shapes and sizes embracing their figures. Social media serves as an awesome platform for people to express themselves and showcase their individuality. In a world where a singular narrow image of beauty is continuously regurgitated by the fashion industry and media, it’s nice to see a variety of different people owning what makes them unique and beautiful.
What was it like walking in the most high-energy show at TFW, Hayley Elsaesser? Was it your first time on the runway, or walking for Hayley?
I have modeled for photos before but the runway was a whole new ballgame for me. Initially, I was pretty terrified that I’d trip, pass out, or do something to embarrass myself. As soon as the show started, and I was watching people walk on the monitor backstage, I realized that everyone was just having a great time and I went with it. Overall, it was a wonderful opportunity and a really fun experience. Hayley is both an amazing designer and person. Her clothing is so unique but also easy and fun to wear. I admire that she uses people of different body types, ages, and ethnicities to model her clothing. Other designers should take a page out of her book because lack of representation is still a very troubling aspect of the fashion industry.
You inspire a lot of women to embrace the body they were born in (us included!) Were you always the beautiful & confident woman we see now? Or did you experience a transitional period?
Hell no! It has taken me years to become confident and secure with myself. I was ruthlessly bullied in middle school because of my weight. I couldn’t walk down the hallways without people muttering awful things about my body under their breaths. In grade 8, I missed 40 days of class because school felt like such a toxic, unsafe environment. When I went to high school, the bullying subsided but my confidence was in the gutter after years of being told I was fat and ugly. For most of high school, I was pretty reserved and quiet because I was worried of being judged and more than anything, I just wanted to blend in. My confidence began to develop after I graduated. I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and realized that no matter how much I exercised or dieted, I would never be thin. Once I came to this realization, I began focusing on trying to love instead of change myself. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m proud of how far I’ve come. As I’ve gotten older and grown into my own skin, others opinions have begun to matter less and less to me. I now try to focus on being the happiest, healthiest, and best version of myself. I still can’t really believe it, but it’s cool that I’ve been able inspire others with my confidence and positivity.
You’re also a photographer, who are your subjects? What inspires you the most?
I love portrait photography. My subjects are usually my friends. I find that the best photos of people are taken when they’re comfortable and that’s why I love shooting people I’m close with. Being able to capture someone’s personality and energy in a photo is extremely gratifying. Not only am I inspired by bright, happy people, but bright happy colours as well. Colour is an important feature in all of my photographs. If you look at my Instagram, it’s pretty apparent that pink is my favourite colour.
Tell us a bit about your art. It seems to always carry a message about positivity.
I did a lot of painting when I was a teenager but when I started university, I began having less time for artwork. In my second year of university, I took an equity studies course, and as cliché as it sounds, the course really changed the way I looked at the world. Not long after, I switched from a political science, to an equity studies major. I’m really passionate about social justice and through some of my equity classes, I’ve been able to get back into painting because I get a decent amount of creative projects. I’ve done a few pieces that have aimed to challenge dominant standards of beauty by depicting bodies that are traditionally underrepresented by the fashion industry in a positive, empowering, and beautiful way. Overall, I believe that the most effective way to challenge the status quo is through love and positivity.
In four words, describe the future of fashion as you see it.
Affordable, inclusive, playful, and brazen.
All images are Jody's own. Follow Jody's colourful life here.