Social Media and Self-Esteem: How SMWi Toronto is Changing the Conversation

Social Media has changed our lives in many ways; from the rapid rate at which we consume information, to our ability to stay in touch with friends overseas, to the way we network and date.

Self-esteem is one area that many feel has been influenced by social media. Facebook showcases our peers’ gag reels which we can’t help but compare to our own reality. Instagram leads us to believe that anyone can be a professional photographer or model. There is pressure to post our “exciting” lives and to appear socially popular. Some go overboard and post details of their lives multiple times a day, hoping for their networks to validate their breakfast plate or new manicure. Others close the social door, and (attempt to) turn social media off – like Australian social star and model, Essena O’Neill –  who publicly quit social media last year because it ‘is not real life’. While extreme cases like these make headlines, there is a huge amount of progress being made on body positivity thanks to social media.  

At its core, social media is a tool that allows us to share information with a large audience. Social media puts our voices on steroids – and we have the power to use this for topics like body positivity that add value to our lives and – quite frankly – need to be talked about.

A multitude of brands, bloggers and platforms are engaging their social communities on the topic of body positivity – check out the #Fatkini movement, where curvaceous women all over the world showcase themselves loud and proud in swim suits. Wear Your Label is a conscious clothing line that uses fashion (and social media!) to create conversations about mental health. Many of us are familiar with Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, which began over a decade ago. Dove has facilitated thousands of conversations around the world and their research has helped us understand just how BIG an issue poor self-esteem is – Did you know that only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful?! – that’s right, only 4%! It is clear that social movement is improving self-esteem, and more is needed.

We are thrilled to host 2 events at SMWi Toronto to showcase how social media is being used for body positivity: Join us on Tuesday, June 7th for Twitter Canada’s talk From Insights to Action: Changing the Conversation One Tweet at a Time at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Additionally, Self-esteem in the Age of Selfies: A Panel on Confidence and Body Positivity in the Technology World will take place at BrightLane on the final day of SMWi Toronto.

Twitter’s panel will showcase first hand how brands are using data and turning negative conversations to positive ones. Joining this discussion is Mama Bee from the EhBee Family, Toronto’s first family of Vine. Mama Bee will share her insights on working with a major brand to bring its message of positivity to life. Veronica Watson MacDonell, Associate Brand Strategist for Twitter Canada, will discuss how Twitter powered this conversation and how data driven consumer insights can empower creative campaigns. Robin Hassan, Senior Marketing Communications & Emerging Media Strategy Executive at Unilever will also join the panel. Jamie Michaels, Head of Brand Strategy at Twitter Canada, and one of SMWi Toronto’s advisors,  will be moderating the session.    

Our body positivity panel discussion will bring together local activists, experts and social media influencers for an engaging conversation about the impact of social media on self esteem, and how brands, agencies and social technologies can help point us in the right direction. Panelists include Ama Scriver, body image activist and co-founder of the Fat Girl Food Squad blog; Andrew Gurza, Founder/Co-Director of Deliciously Disabled Consulting; Daniel Reyes, founder of Do The Daniel blog, Jill Andrew, Award-winning columnist and speaker and Aisha Fairclough, co -founder of the lifestyle blog Fat In the City and the Body Confidence Canada Awards.

Join us at SMWi Toronto (register here), and join our online conversation around body positivity!


Jamie Michaels – Moderator for From Insights to Action: Changing the Conversation One Tweet at a Time

Jamie_SMWiTOJamie is the Head of Brand Strategy at Twitter Canada, where he partners with top marketers to build ideas that create impact during moments that matter.  He is an award-winning marketer specializing in brand strategy, digital marketing and social media.

Prior to joining Twitter, Jamie was the Director of Brand Integration for Rogers’ Sportsnet and NHL properties. In this role, he was responsible for developing and executing integrated media solutions for Sportsnet’s 5 platforms and Toronto Blue Jays media partnerships. Previously, Jamie was Director of Marketing at CBC, where he led a centralized team building partnership programs leveraging iconic brands including Hockey Night in Canada and Dragons’ Den. He began his marketing and sales career at Viacom Canada and went on to lead corporate marketing for Toronto’s 2008 Olympic Bid.

Robin Hassan – Speaker for From Insights to Action: Changing the Conversation One Tweet at a Time

0c6e4efLeadership, innovation & strategic thinking are the key drivers of Robin’s 15+ year marketing career across: Brand, Publisher and Agency (creative & media). A believer in the mantra that “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”, Robin has led multi award winning campaigns (Internationalist, MIA, AToMiC) with innovative digital ideas at their core. Robin is a frequent speaker at conferences across North America (ad:tech, IAB Mixx, AToMiC), a regular contributor to Media in Canada, founding Chair IAB Social Media Committee and active member/advisor for several industry boards including: nextMedia and iMedia. Robin also volunteers as social media expert for @TOundrgroundmkt (local food entrepreneur community) and @wearewearables (wearable tech developer meetup).

Veronica Watson MacDonell – Speaker for From Insights to Action: Changing the Conversation One Tweet at a Time

Veronica_Watson_HeadshotVeronica is an Associate Brand Strategist at Twitter Canada, where she partners with top Canadian brands to build creative programs that make an impact and connect brands to their consumers. In this role, she has launched campaigns with top Canadian and global brands, providing guidance from initial concept all the way through to program execution. Prior to joining Twitter, Veronica was a brand strategist at TwentyTen Corp managing social strategy as well as building integrated sponsorships for a variety of Canadian sport brands. Veronica began her career at IMG Worldwide, working on licensing and events for sport and entertainment properties. Veronica has a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Business Management from Dalhousie University, as well as a Certificate in Public Relations from Ryerson University.

MamaBee – Speaker for From Insights to Action: Changing the Conversation One Tweet at a Time

SMWi_MamaBeeMama Bee is the “Super Mom” of the EhBeeFamily! With close to 10 million Facebook fans, 3 million followers on Vine, and 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube, the Eh Bee Family of four have risen to fame with their short-form comedy videos poking fun at daily family life. They believe that laughter and family pair well together, to create the perfect entertainment for viewers of all ages.


Lora Grady – Moderator For Self-esteem in the Age of Selfies: A Panel on Confidence and Body Positivity in the Technology World

Lora GradyLora Grady is a style editor, body-positive blogger ( and an outspoken enthusiast of red lipstick. She graduated from Ryerson University’s School of Journalism in 2009. Her work has appeared in Chatelaine and The Kit.



Amanda “Ama” Scriver – Panelist for Self-esteem in the Age of Selfies: A Panel on Confidence and Body Positivity in the Technology World

Ama_SMwiAmanda (Ama) Scriver is a passionate community builder and body image activist based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She was the co-founder of the blog, Fat Girl Food Squad and profiled for her activism work by Mashable, Bustle, CBC Metro Morning, Now Magazine and The Toronto Star. She has written throughout her career for Paste Magazine, Sprudge, Hello Giggles, The Gloss and Foodism on a variety of topics. In her spare time, she enjoys a good cup of coffee, trashy reality television shows and partaking in a good chip buffet. Amanda is fluent in GIF.

Andrew Gurza – Panelist for Self-esteem in the Age of Selfies: A Panel on Confidence and Body Positivity in the Technology World

Andrew GurzaAndrew Gurza is the Founder/Co-Director of Deliciously Disabled Consulting, where he strives to make disability accessible to everyone within pop culture and intersectional communities.   His written work has been highlighted in Out Magazine, The Advocate, Huffington Post and The Good Men Project, where he candidly discusses the realities of sex and disability as a Queer Cripple. He is also host of the “Deliciously Disabled” podcast on iTunes where he makes sex and disability accessible to the masses. [twitter: @deliciouslydrew]

Daniel Reyes – Panelist For Self-esteem in the Age of Selfies: A Panel on Confidence and Body Positivity in the Technology World

Daniel ReyesDaniel Reyes founded the blog Do The Daniel in 2013 and has since expanded it into a successful business and brand. With a degree in communications, a background in marketing, a love for social media and a contagious energy, he has helped to create a relatable outlet that offers something new and refreshing to an ever changing industry. After having written for Ontario Travel, Marketing Magazine & UK based international fashion magazine Out There Magazine, Daniel has been featured for his work in The Bay Street Bull,, and Most recently known for his speaking engagements at Queen’s University, Humber College, PodCamp Toronto and Seneca College, he enjoys sharing his experience and knowledge with the students and influencers of tomorrow.

Jill Andrew – Panelist For Self-esteem in the Age of Selfies: A Panel on Confidence and Body Positivity in the Technology World

Jill_SMWiBodyPositiveAward-winning columnist and speaker Jill Andrew, PhD(c.) aka “Ji!!” is passionate about documenting and celebrating people’s body stories. Jill is co-founder of the Body Confidence Canada Awards (BCCAs), FatinTheCity a fatshion lifestyle blog, associate producer of the documentary Shadeism: Digging Deeper, co-editor of the upcoming anthology “In Our Skin: Our Bodies Our Stories”(Demeter Press, Toronto ON), and a board advisor to NAAFA (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance) among other body positivity projects and orgs. Jill also created Curvy Catwalk Fashion Fundraiser – a first in Toronto at the time (2006) and BITE ME! Toronto Int’l Body Image Film & Arts Festival which was inspired by her Masters from UofT in Women & Gender Studies. Jill frequently appears online, on-air and in print discussing body image as it intersects with size discrimination, fat activism, race & representation, social media, fashion/clothing politics, and women and girls’ leadership and empowerment. Jill pens the column “THIS Abject Body” (THIS Magazine) and also has done a TEDtalk @YorkU on Fat Shaming & the Thin Epidemic. She recently spearheaded a CHANGE.ORG campaign to help END SIZE DISCRIMINATION. For more on Jill, including her awards and community volunteerism, visit; Twitter: @JILLSLASTWORD @BCCAwards @FATINTHECITY

Aisha Fairclough – Panelist for Self-esteem in the Age of Selfies: A Panel on Confidence and Body Positivity in the Technology World

aisha_smwitorontoAisha Fairclough is the co -founder of Fat In the a lifestyle blog and the Body Confidence Canada Awards. Aisha has worked as a Story Producer and Casting Producer for shows broadcast on the Oprah Winfrey Network, HGTV, Food Network, Slice and CBC. She was the lead stylist on the primetime series Sex With Sunny Magatron airing on Showtime &The Movie Channel. She is currently producing a short doc. For more visit and follow on twitter & instagram @fatinthecity

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