Mayana Muse: Kayla Logan on her Journey to Body Positivity and Mental Wellness
Kayla Logan (@kaylaloganblog) is an icon for body positivity. She is courageous and inspires us with her honest and transparent insight into her journey. Kayla has chosen undergarments as her statement of choice and we completely understand why, since it is such an intimate way to express yourself. Today, you can find her posing at landmarks around the world in lingerie, to spread the message about breaking barriers and body positivity. Despite appearances, her journey to being her confident self was not easy. She is open about her past with mental health and how that has shaped the woman she is today, being diagnosed at an early age and the discrimination she faced dealing with depression.
We first connected with Kayla after the 2018 Real Catwalk in Times Square , where she participated with other like-minded women focused on body positive awareness and in their discussion of body inclusive brands, ours up! She loved how we were a Canadian, sustainable lingerie brand, that makes garments for women of all sizes and shapes. Upon her return, Kayla reached out to us and has proudly supported Mayana Genevière through wearing her selected pieces in multiple shoots over time. You may have seen her on our Instagram.
To celebrate Body Confidence Week, Kayla agreed to sit down with us to talk about her own body positive journey, her struggles with mental health, and how you too can be more body confident.
What kicked off your body positivity journey?
I had been living, working and traveling across California. When I got home, I noticed I had gained a lot of weight. My family has made comments like “wow, you got fat!”. At the same time, I had been going through a lot of severe depression, and I ended up gaining over 100lbs by this time. Due to the depression, I couldn’t get off the couch for 6 months and I was so devastated over the weight I’d gained. I refused to go see friends or just engage in any social activity. I didn’t want people to give me the “she got fat look!” So I decided to start the Dr.Bernstein diet program. I decided while doing the diet that I wanted to share with women my authentic journey, stretch marks and all. I also decided at this time I would pose at iconic places in my underwear to show people throughout my weight loss journey that you’re beautiful at every shape and size. I starting doing this and 20lbs down I realized that I didn’t believe any of this. I never loved myself when I was thin, I didn’t love myself being fat, I just didn’t love myself and that was the real issue. I had also hurt myself physically by the restrictive diet I was on and I realized I was reinforcing the diet culture and not body positivity. I quit the diet, which was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I started on my journey of body positivity. I still pose at iconic places in my underwear, but now I do love myself and I love all the people who come out and join me in these shoots.
Why have you chosen lingerie as a form of expressing your body love and how has it changed your life?
I’ve chosen lingerie because of the taboo, something you need to be provocative to be heard. It’s the same coverage as a bathing suit, but there is this shame around it in public. It’s the perfect device to wear in order to get my points across. Also, lingerie for many women is something that makes them feel beautiful, sexy and confident. We should all feel this way no matter what shape and size we are. We all deserve to feel good in our underwear!
Can you share your journey with mental illness and what has gotten you through it?
I’ve struggled with generalized anxiety disorder that affects my systematic nervous system accompanied by panic attacks since the age of 14. At 19, I was formally diagnosed with a permanent mental health disability. I also struggle with depression and ADHD. I’ve struggled to the point where I didn’t think I would be standing here today to share my story with you. The discrimination I’ve faced in University for my mental illness and the refusal to provide accommodation for students with disabilities has some of the hardest challenges and years of my life. I hid my disability until a few years ago because I was ashamed, embarrassed and I was raised in a family where we didn’t share our dirty laundry in public. I felt like this was my dirty laundry.
When I went into the public relations program at Western University after I had finished my Bachelors of Arts, and I ended up sharing my story of my struggles with mental health with the Human Rights Tribunal and I was published! I bawled with sheer happiness. At this point, I was going through human rights issues with the university regarding my disabilities and I decided I was done being quiet about my mental health. I was done hiding it, and being ashamed and it was time I started advocating for others in my position who didn’t have the same strength as me to do so.
Can you tell us more about the advocacy work you have done for mental health?
I joined CONNECT FOR MENTAL HEALTH where I became a certified mental health mentor to a person who was being released from the psychiatric ward trying to transition back into society. Being in a community that normalized and provided support and education on mental health was a real turning point for me. I ended up sharing this story at 100 Women Who Care, London and raised over $20 000 for CONNECT FOR MENTAL HEALTH.
I saw the discrimination I faced and I never wanted anyone to go through what I had. I vowed to never be silent again! This is what keeps me going. It’s being honest and vulnerable with my followers. It gives me a place to share, reflect, to inspire, to connect and to be heard, it keeps me fighting not only for myself, but for those who feel alone and like they have no options left and like there is something wrong with them. For too many years, I thought I was alone in this and that I was broken. I don’t want anyone to every feel that way and we need to be authentic about mental health while we’re in the throws of it to show people that it’s OK and you’ll get through, we to normalize it because people are dying. All of this is what helps me to get through it.
What advice can you share about becoming more body confident, regardless of our size?
Confidence is an attitude. Honestly, fake it till you make it. It’s cliche I know, but I couldn’t be more true. When I first started this journey every time I got photos back of me I just thought I looked soo fat and it honestly made me feel terrible. I would have to correct this mindset and tell myself these are just thoughts, there not true and I am beautiful, I am confident. I would walk around with my head held high and strut my stuff like I belonged and had more confidence than anyone you know, it took almost a year, but I believe it!
How important is mindset when accepting your body?
Mindset is the most important thing when learning how to accept your body, it’s everything. You need to decide that you’re worth loving yourself and you deserve it. I learned to love myself with lots of positive affirmations. It’s OK to have negative thoughts, it’s normal given that we live in a society that has imposed such oppressive beauty standards on women. We’ve become accustomed to never truly loving our bodies exactly how they are. So we need to start questioning the beauty ideals and what has been taught to us because we’re all beautiful exactly how we are, no matter what shape and size, what’s wrong isn’t us, it’s society. We need to unlearn these thought processes and negativity surrounding our body image that we’ve been taught our whole lives. I do this with lots of positivity. Sometimes there are time moments when I see myself in a mirror and think “wow! You’re really fat!” But, the important part is that I correct myself, I show my self love, empathy and kindness. I tell myself things like “you’re beautiful just the way you are.” It really helps a lot. Find an affirmation that you really want to believe about yourself and practice it daily because one day you will believe it.
We’ve seen you sport Mayana Geneviere pieces on 4 separate occasions, can tell us how they make you feel?
Phenomenal! That’s the word to describe it. I’ve never owned pieces that are more beautifully made. The quality is exquisite, it hugs your curves in all the right ways, and sits beautifully in the skin. The lace is die for. It’s all Canadian and the owner is a female entrepreneur; is there anymore I need to say? It’s some of the nicest pieces I’ve ever owned. It’s sexy, sophisticated, it’s designed for women by a woman and you can tell when you put it on.
Who are the people you admire the most in this space and why?
Some of the people that I admire the most are people like the Real Catwalk founder Krystana because they’re creating change by starting international movements to include all people and to start a conversation about body positivity. Honestly, there are so many people in this space that are doing important work. I like to focus on the activists that are plus size because body positivity was created by marginalized bodies (larger bodies) in order to find equality in places like doctors offices, or seating on transportation. I think it’s extremely important to have larger bodies represent this movement and to speak out on the hardships they endure in this society because that’s why this movement was created.
Why are you sharing your journey or what do you want women to know?
I want women to know that you’re not alone and it’s okay to not be okay. I felt so isolated for so many years, struggling with mental health and my body image behind closed doors, but today is a new day and there are communities of women who are body positive and fat positive that are there for you. You are worthy, you deserve to be loved and feel loved regardless of what size you are.
If you are going through a mental health crisis, face bullying or discrimination in your day-to-day, or would like to learn more about your mental health, please reach out to the Canadian Mental Health Association or Mental Health America, Body Confidence Canada, Womenshealth.gov or find your local mental health centre for further resources.