Elly Mayday is a lot of things to a lot of different people. To some, she is the bubbly plus-size model and to others online, she is the fierce body image advocate. But above anything else, Mayday is a survivor who has used her platform to not just redefine beauty standards in North America but to also start a conversation on ovarian cancer — the third-most common reproductive cancer in Canada.
On International Women’s Day, Mayday was brought into the YouTube Space Toronto where we had the chance to catch up with her and talk candidly about beauty standards and being an advocate for women across Canada.
Edit Seven: You went public with your ovarian cancer diagnosis while pursuing your modeling career – why was this important to you?
Elly Mayday: For me, it was an opportunity to shine a light on a disease that is rarely mentioned in the media. For so long, I was misdiagnosed and I just couldn’t help but be public about it. I honestly think this is what I was meant to do. While my initial message throughout modelling was to tell everyone to love the body and skin they were in and appreciate it, I didn’t want to let cancer change that perspective for me, so I started talking about it.
E7: You just mentioned you kept being misdiagnosed – what did it take to have doctors take your symptoms seriously?
EM: At the time, I was working as a flight attendant and I had to call into work to book off my first few flights because of the pain I was in. The pain had become so much, that I just couldn’t bare it anymore and I wasn’t able to return to work until I felt better. I stopped everything and went on disability, so I could dedicate myself to figuring out what was wrong. Luckily, this sprung the doctors into action and they took me (and my pain) a bit more seriously. It’s a choice that saved my life.
E7: More and more people are talking about body positivity – what does this mean for you and what have you noticed on social media?
EM: The body positive community is getting people to think better of themselves by seeing others doing so. I know I have personally received hundreds of messages on how my attitude towards my scars, weight and baldness has affected them. I’ve noticed a dramatic shift and I love it.
E7: Do you think our societal norms and perceptions of what ideal beauty standards are changing? If not, what needs to happen?
EM: Things are slowly beginning to change. I believe there are certain brands that are hopping on the wagon and “trying” to be body positive but still showcasing the typical white thin woman. I mean, the proof is in the pudding and if you’re going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk. Have all sizes you carry in your commercials and advertising. It shouldn’t be a big deal to have different disabilities, races, sizes and genders in your ads. We need to keep going.
Practice what you preach because we’re living in a world where the consumer has a voice and you’re going to hear it.
E7: What advice would you give readers who are also struggling with their own body image?
EM: Describe yourself by what clothes you wear, your build, your eye color and skin tone— but DEFINE yourself by your actions. You and your beauty come from within, it shows when you walk, when you speak to a stranger. Your beauty truly comes from within and people dig that a lot more than what you think they see. You are a lot more than what is in the mirror, show that off.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Ama Scriver)