Earlier this year, Kelly Clarkson made a comeback. She produced a powerful album with enough motivational mantras to fill stadiums around the world.

Yet, the media’s main focus was on her weight gain after giving birth.

Heather Hildebrandt, a second-year Communication Studies student at Capilano University, knew that she had to respond.

“It’s so odd that we put each other down for procreating and doing something that’s natural,” she says with a laugh. “You have to gain weight to have a baby.”

Heather had an ideal avenue to voice her thoughts: a hands-on assignment for the Psychology of Women and Gender course, taught by Women’s and Gender Studies instructor Surita Jhangiani.

Each student was to write on a topic that interested them and would be timely and relevant to readers—like the portrayal of women in media.

“[The goal of the assignment was] to do something proactive about all we learn in regards to how women are treated and seen in society,” Surita says.

Heather’s resulting op-ed, “Fat shaming of women must end, starting with the tabloids,” was published recently in the Georgia Straight. Surita’s vision was to create a “legacy assignment”—something that students could use for their portfolio.

For the aspiring writer, this was an opportunity to have a lasting impression on an audience. Heather credits Surita’s course with changing her viewpoint on women’s issues and, ultimately, affirming her career goals.

“[We looked at] what’s holding women back from equality,” Heather says. “I just think there’s a lot of superficial things that stand in our way to begin with.”

She plans to continue writing and speaking out against gender inequality, and now hopes to land a role in the newspaper and magazine industry.

“I was really happy to see that Heather got published,” Surita says. “I think it’s a really current topic and it’s great that she was able to bring attention to it.”

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This article originally appeared at Straight.com

Heather Hildebrandt: Fat shaming of women must end, starting with the tabloids

by Heather Hildebrandt on June 11th, 2015 at 3:18 PM

You see them every time you buy groceries: tabloids aka gossip magazines declaring the latest news about any and every star with a hint of a story. One of the more popular topics commonly found on the cover is weight—who’s gained it, who’s lost it, and who needs more of it—predominantly focusing on women. The public is constantly scrutinizing the weight of celebrities.

Recently, Kelly Clarkson was the centre of this attention after making her first public appearance since having a baby to promote her new album. The singer had gained weight from the pregnancy and the media took notice. It was quickly the focus of many tabloids and Internet gossip sites, and gained further attention when a British columnist tweeted that Clarkson looked as if she had eaten her back-up dancers. Her body was publicly dissected and shamed, and the common question was “Why hasn’t she lost the weight yet?”

On the other hand, Kevin Bacon recently tweeted a photo where he appeared to have gained significant weight and the public response was much different.

Read Heather’s full op-ed here.

Submitted by Marketing & Communications

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