How I Get Sh*t Done: Mikael Melo
Loving your body every day, all day isn’t exactly realistic and honey it ain’t easy! And Mikael Melo wanted to change that! The recent Ryerson graduate turned producer started Body365 back in 2017. The movement was about changing our ideas about body positivity, and learning to love ourselves in our own skin. The movement was focused on a photoshoot campaign that highlights the subjects ‘body story,’ which included things like your first encounter with insecurity, how it affected you, and what you are doing now to overcome it. The campaign blew up on Instagram, and was voted People’s Choice Award at the 2018 TARA media awards. Healthy is Hot sat down with Mikael to talk about the campaign’s successes and what’s next for the movement!
What is Body 365?
Body 365 is a body positive campaign that highlights diverse body types from all genders, races, ages, faiths, sexual orientations, disabled bodies and any marginalized members of society, 365 days a year in a format that is similar to Humans of New York. Body 365 is for everybody, and when we say everybody, we mean everybody.
Why did you create this company?
Growing up I was always so insecure about my body. I was extremely overweight and one day I promised myself to lose all my weight in order to be happier in my own skin. Eventually I dropped around 50lbs, but I was still extremely insecure. I hadn't realized that loving my body wasn't about how it looked on the outside, but how I felt and treated myself on the inside. Ever since that I've been extremely outspoken when it comes to body positivity, so much to the point that one day I went out for coffee with my good friend Justine Eredlyi. We talked for hours about our insecurities and eventually we came to realize that we should make a platform where people can openly talk about their struggles with their bodies and how they're learning to love themselves on the daily. No one can confidently say I’ve never felt insecure about the way I look, because that wouldn’t be true. We all face insecurity at some point or another, so we wanted to tackle that issue head on and showcase that our insecurities should be celebrated not shunned. That's where Body 365 started.
You’re using Instagram as your platform of choice to spread your message and social media can sometimes be a place of judgement and shame. How has the reaction been on social media in regards to the campaign?
It was a very slow climb at first. Some people were turned off by the concept; I think they saw it too sexual perhaps? So to combat that I told my team, we can’t expect people to do something if we don’t do it first. So my team was the first set of people featured for Body 365. From there eventually people started to see what we were trying to do and we were able to get enough people to share their stories. The feedback from there has been so so lovely. People are thanking us for displaying different body types that don't usually get represented, we all have bodies and we should be celebrating all of those in mainstream media. I remember getting a private DM from a girl who opened up to me about her eating disorder. She had read one of the stories we posted of someone who had recovered from their eating disorder and said she just broke down. There was such comfort in knowing someone went through what she did and was able to come out on top. It was one of those moments where all the hard work that goes in to making a project pays off. Hearing someone relate to your project on such a deep level - words can't even begin to explain. Not only that we were voted as the People’s Choice Award at the 2018 TARA Awards and just to have an audience vote for our project as their topic choice, I think it speaks volumes to how important the topic of body positivity is!
How can social media bring us together in regards to body positivity and feeling accepted?
I think social media can be extremely toxic. People only post what’s good in their lives, and let’s face it majority of the photos posted are extremely edited. But social media can be such a great tool as well! With Body 365 we hope it breaks through as a positivity noise on people’s timelines. Reminding them that we are all made different, but we are all connected by the common fact that we are human and we all have bodies, and they’re made to be different and that’s beautiful! So let’s celebrate the beautiful! All our photos are totally unedited, so what you see is what you get. The only thing we touch is the colour, I made the decision to make all our photos black and white to keep a clean cohesive look to the collection for our photos to showcase how our differences allow us to see that deep down we are all the same. I think the more honest and raw we are on social media the more positive we feel about ourselves. I love seeing photos of models showing up their guts and how different angles, makeup and lighting changes everything. It shows us not to idolize Photoshop and unrealistic standards that have been set in society. Love your body, everyday is our slogan and I think through a positive way of social media we can truly start to see that flourish.
Why was it important to open up a campaign surrounding body positivity for both men and women?
I think sometimes body positivity campaigns will only focus on a certain gender, as if all people don’t need body positivity. I’ve seen countless body positivity ads geared towards women, but you never see a woman with a disability, a Trans-woman, etc. At Body 365 we really try to highlight all walks of life so that when you visit our page you can relate to someone whether it be that you look similar to them or that you share the same body positivity story as them.
Tell us something that you want people to know about your brand and company.
Body 365 is just about self-love, learning to embrace your insecurities and loving the skin you’re in. It’s showcasing real people, bearing their hearts and souls talking about such a person thing - body image. We believe that being healthy means being body positive. The number on a scale doesn’t define your worth, what defines your worth is your own outlook on yourself and how you treat your body! We just want to be a good remember on social media for people to remember to love the skin they’re in! That your imperfections are just what make you perfectly you!
How are candidates chosen? And how can others interested get involved?
In the beginning stages, I would personally reach out to people. I am a strong believer in representation, so with our first batch of features I wanted to make sure that people could find someone they could relate to whether that was visually or through their story. So we reached out to men, women, people of colour, people who were 18, people who were 40, disabled people, Trans- people, etc. Eventually we got enough interest that we started filling our shoot dates months in advance, we had to even make a waiting list till we could confirm more studio dates! Something I always stress is that we do always give people the option to pull out of the project 24 hours before their release date, which has happened with a few people. I just believe in making sure people are comfortable with this being posted. Same with what you wear on set, we say come as comfortable as you’d like to be as long as it’s black garments. So whether it means being shot in your underwear, workout gear, a nice black outfit, or if you want to complete strip down - that’s up to you! We believe in consent and feeling safe on set. There’s also the option to have a male or female photographer on sight if that is the preference of our model. To get involved just contact us on our social (Instagram @Body365_ or Facebook: facebook.com/mybody365) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org , however right now we are on a hiatus due to production costs.
What is the future of Body 365?
That’s a good question, haha. I’m really proud of the work we’ve done so far. My team has worked incredibly hard for free to shoot up to 130 people as of right now (however, some of those people choice to not have their photos released). I would love to see this project continue to grow as we feature more people. However, production costs due to rent studio space has increased which causes a bit of issue as we are non-for-profit. As of right now if Body 365 ends here (having featured former Disney Channel star and Hairspray live star Garrett Clayton, adult performer Adam Ramzi, Family Channel and BlogTO Host Deepa Prashaud, and many others) I’ll be super pleased if it gets to continue onward. Regardless of what happens we will keep the account and the stories posted active so they can still continue to reach and remind people the importance of self-love.
What does Healthy is Hot mean to you?
The title alone is something I love so much. Healthy is Hot is exactly what it is, it’s not Skinny is Hot, it’s not Muscular is Hot, it’s Healthy is Hot- whether that means being confident in your own skin, or being in a really great state of mental mind, or taking the stairs at work rather than the elevator. It’s a reminder that taking care of you is so important and it’s so hot too! Nothing is hotter than someone doing something that’s good for themselves. Like YASS Michelle you buy that salad today and walk to work! Or YASS Ken you got yourself a haircut and feel really confident - good for you! Taking care of yourself day by day is important and that’s honestly the sexiest thing you can do.
Follow Body365’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/body365_/?hl=en
Follow Body365 on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MyBody365
Read about our writer Mackenzie Wong’s experience with the Body365 campaign: https://www.healthyishott.com/home/2018/9/18/the-body-365-campaign