MIL­LEN­NI­ALS ON THE MOVE

Miss FQ - - Contents -

Gals do­ing good

Body Love Blue­print isn’t your typ­i­cal ex­er­cise pro­gramme. Firstly, there are no scales. Se­condly, there’s wine. “We’re about much more than fit­ness,” says owner and founder Court­ney Durr. “Our boot camps in­volve work­ing out twice a week, but they also in­volve go­ing out on week­ends for bike rides, walks, brunch or cof­fee… even a wine or three! We’re all about bal­ance: men­tally, phys­i­cally and so­cially.”

The busi­ness be­gan when Court­ney worked as a per­sonal trainer at Les Mills in Welling­ton. “All I wanted was for my clients to be healthy, happy and proud of their progress. In­stead, I watched so many of them feel dis­ap­pointed, talk neg­a­tively about them­selves, and quit if they weren’t los­ing any weight,” she says. When she re­alised that she, too, was part of the prob­lem – con­stantly com­par­ing her­self to other women and re­sent­ing them for what they had and how they looked – she re­cal­i­brated her at­ti­tude. Los­ing weight ceased to be a pri­or­ity; her new goal was to fuel her body so it could achieve amaz­ing things. She com­pleted a half Iron Man, and shortly af­ter­wards Body Love Blue­print was born.

Three years later, what be­gan as a 10-week boot camp has evolved into Body Love New Zealand, which of­fers three-day re­treats cen­tred around growth, ad­ven­ture and con­nec­tion. “We run work­shops to ed­u­cate girls on self-con­fi­dence, liv­ing in pos­si­bil­ity, and over­com­ing ad­ver­sity. We move through ac­tiv­i­ties like yoga, quad bik­ing and hik­ing. And we build re­la­tion­ships with and be­tween women, by fa­cil­i­tat­ing fun ex­pe­ri­ences that en­cour­age vul­ner­a­bil­ity, and by fos­ter­ing on­go­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion af­ter the re­treats are over,” says Court­ney.

The holis­tic ethos be­hind the Body Love move­ment means you don’t have to be a gym bunny to ben­e­fit. Nor is it a ‘one size fits all’ pro­gramme. Court­ney’s clients come in all shapes and sizes, with dif­fer­ent fit­ness back­grounds and dif­fer­ent con­cerns, both in­side and out. And although Court­ney and her busi­ness part­ner, Abbey Palmer, don’t pre­tend to have all the answers, they’re com­mit­ted to catering to ev­ery­one’s needs. “We are there to sup­port, en­cour­age and never judge,” says Court­ney. “We have close con­nec­tions with all of our clients, so we un­der­stand that some girls need a push, while oth­ers just need kind words and en­cour­age­ment.”

Cur­rently Welling­ton-based, Court­ney and Abbey are work­ing on ex­pand­ing the reach of the Body Love pro­gramme so that women around the coun­try and around the globe can get in­volved. Un­til then, Body Love’s In­sta­gram and Face­book ac­counts act as a hub where mem­bers of the com­mu­nity can con­nect in a pos­i­tive on­line en­vi­ron­ment. Learn­ing how to har­ness the em­pow­er­ing rather than the de­struc­tive po­ten­tial of so­cial me­dia has been cru­cial for Court­ney, who strives to keep it real on both her busi­ness and per­sonal ac­counts. This means shar­ing the bad with the good, in­clud­ing ad­mit­ting to her fol­low­ers when she’s strug­gling with her body im­age or lack­ing the mo­ti­va­tion to work out.

“Life is not about get­ting it right 100% of the time,” she says, adding that she wishes she had learnt to em­brace fail­ure, judg­ment and crit­i­cism ear­lier, “be­cause you never know who you’re in­spir­ing.”

As for words to live by, Court­ney thinks the hash­tag #ac­tionover­per­fec­tion sums it up. And her ad­vice for any woman ques­tion­ing her path in life? “Take a risk, be­cause ei­ther you win or you learn,” she says. “You’ve got one life and you’re go­ing to spend it feel­ing com­fort­able? Hell, no! Go for it, girl!”

Phoebe Watt meets three young women mak­ing a dif­fer­ence and bring­ing about pos­i­tive change in the fields of fit­ness, fash­ion and pol­i­tics COURT­NEY DURR Founder of Body Love New Zealand @bodylovenz “We are there to sup­port and en­cour­age and never judge”

“It’s kind of been a run­ning joke since I was a kid that one day I would be prime min­is­ter,” says law school grad­u­ate, en­tre­pre­neur and 2016 Auck­land mayoral can­di­date Ch­löe Swar­brick. “But I ac­tu­ally never thought I’d end up in pol­i­tics. I al­ways thought you could achieve more out­side of it, whether as a jour­nal­ist or in some kind of busi­ness or NGO that acts as a check and bal­ance on the pow­ers that be.”

Be that as it may, in mid-2016, 22-year-old Ch­löe en­tered the race for Auck­land’s may­oralty. “I’m of the gen­er­a­tion where we’ve all gone to univer­sity and come out with these mas­sive stu­dent loans and few job op­por­tu­ni­ties,” she says, ex­plain­ing her de­ci­sion to run. “On top of that, we’re all try­ing to rent in a mar­ket that we can’t af­ford and we’re never go­ing to be able to buy homes here, where the me­dian house price just hit a mil­lion dol­lars. I thought: we’re not look­ing at a good fu­ture, and I can com­plain about this for­ever, or I can do some­thing about it.”

We first met on the day voting opened – two weeks be­fore elec­tion day. Polling bet­ter than pro­jected, Ch­löe was feel­ing more mo­ti­vated than ever. “All of the prob­lems Auck­land is fac­ing with its hous­ing cri­sis, with public trans­port, with the brain drain… they per­son­ally af­fect me. So to win would be win­ning the abil­ity to do some­thing about these prob­lems in a very hands-on way.” Al­beit re­luc­tantly, she coun­tered her op­ti­mism with a dash of real­ism. “Fall­ing short of win­ning, a win for me would be the best out­come for Auck­land, which would be Auck­lan­ders feel­ing that their col­lec­tive voice was heard.”

Un­happy with the fact that two thirds of con­stituents didn’t vote in the pre­vi­ous lo­cal body elec­tion, a key aim of Ch­löe’s was to en­gage the dis­en­gaged – in­clud­ing Auck­land’s youth, but also its poor­est and most dis­en­fran­chised. “They’re the ones who have the most to gain by voting but don’t trust the voting sys­tem and don’t trust politi­cians,” she ex­plains. A crowd-sourc­ing ap­proach to pol­icy was all part of the strat­egy. “I just said, ‘Let’s open the flood­gates. You give me your thoughts on what you want from your coun­cil and your mayor.’” The thou­sands of sub­mis­sions she re­ceived alerted her to the in­tel­li­gence of the voting base. “Peo­ple have re­ally great ideas and they’re will­ing to ac­tu­ally dis­cuss things,” she says. “But they aren’t be­ing re­spected and that’s where we get this dis­con­nect, be­cause pol­i­tics doesn’t re­spect peo­ple. We need to bring that back into it.”

Through­out the cam­paign, she re­ceived count­less mes­sages from peo­ple who had en­rolled to vote “just for [her]”, and these were a huge source of en­cour­age­ment. But there were frus­tra­tions, too, par­tic­u­larly around de­bates where she felt she wasn’t taken se­ri­ously. “Af­ter­wards peo­ple would come up to me and be like, ‘You were the most im­pres­sive by far, what are you go­ing to do next time?’ And it’s like, what do you mean ‘next time’? I’m here now, I’ve shown you my ca­pa­bil­ity and I’ve shown you my pol­icy, I’ve been able to an­swer every ques­tion bet­ter than ev­ery­body else… next time I’ll be 25. Am I still go­ing to be too young then? The time is now. Auck­land is at this tip­ping point now. All of these prob­lems that we’ve got are hap­pen­ing right now, I un­der­stand all of these prob­lems, and I have some very strong pol­icy to re­solve them. And I love this city!”

Love wasn’t enough. On Oc­to­ber 8th, cam­paign favourite Phil Goff took the may­oralty by a land­slide. But with 26,474 votes, Ch­löe gained an im­pres­sive third place, and she is now fac­ing a bright po­lit­i­cal fu­ture. De­spite telling me­dia that she wasn’t in­ter­ested in a ca­reer in cen­tral gov­ern­ment, Ch­löe an­nounced in Novem­ber – much to the de­light of her fol­low­ing – that she is join­ing the Green Party. And if her first foray into pol­i­tics was any­thing to go by, she’s up for what­ever chal­lenges this brings.

“The way that I see it, life is hard. And it would be hard no mat­ter what you do, so why don’t you do the thing that ful­fils you the most?” she says. “That, I sup­pose, is where I get my drive. I just don’t want to waste my time here.”

CH­LÖE SWAR­BRICK Busi­ness owner and politi­cian @chloe.swar­brick

In 2013, Anna Lee was cast in TV show Re­al­ity Trip, a so­cial ex­per­i­ment which saw five Kiwi 20-some­things placed in the poor­est parts of the Philip­pines, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in or­der to see first-hand where our con­sum­ables come from, and to meet the peo­ple who make them. From Manila’s Smokey Moun­tain slum, where 25,000 peo­ple live on the city’s largest dump­site, to the site of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, where 1129 peo­ple had died in a gar­ment fac­tory col­lapse just months be­fore, it was a har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Anna, and one that com­pletely changed her life. “I ar­rived in New Zealand af­ter a long flight from Bangladesh, slid into a taxi and bawled my eyes out the whole way home,” she says. “I vowed to call it quits on shop­ping.”

At the time, Anna was an ed­i­to­rial as­sis­tant at New Zealand Her­ald fash­ion and life­style pub­li­ca­tion Viva. It be­came in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult, she says, to work for a large me­dia cor­po­ra­tion whose com­mer­cial in­ter­ests were fre­quently at odds with her val­ues and be­liefs. But she made the most of the sit­u­a­tion. “I re­alised I was in the per­fect po­si­tion to get my mes­sage across. There was a plat­form at my fin­ger­tips that en­abled me to speak to thou­sands of peo­ple.”

She praises her for­mer edi­tor, Amanda Lin­nell, for see­ing the value in the con­ver­sa­tion that she wanted to have and of­fer­ing her a weekly “Eth­i­cal Liv­ing” col­umn that en­abled her to ed­u­cate read­ers on the re­al­i­ties of where their cloth­ing came from, and fa­mil­iarise them with stylish, eth­i­cal al­ter­na­tives. Ul­ti­mately, though, she knew she could make a big­ger im­pact else­where, and in Fe­bru­ary 2016 she left her one-time dream job for good.

To­day, Anna is pur­su­ing a law de­gree with a fo­cus on hu­man rights. “I hope to in­crease my knowl­edge of this area, which will hope­fully make me a bet­ter writer on the topic and bet­ter able to rep­re­sent those who don’t have a voice,” she says, ex­plain­ing that her long-term goal is to move to Bangladesh to pro­vide le­gal aid to gar­ment work­ers like those who per­ished at Rana Plaza. Mean­while, she is run­ning a con­sul­tancy busi­ness that as­sists lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional brands who want to im­prove their over­seas sup­ply chains, and, in her free-time, us­ing so­cial me­dia to call out those who are fall­ing short. She’s adamant that the ex­cuses de­sign­ers come up with for not em­brac­ing eth­i­cal and sus­tain­able prac­tices – in­clud­ing that it’s ‘too ex­pen­sive’ – are un­ac­cept­able. “Value hu­man life over ex­ces­sive profit – sim­ple as that.”

With the help of or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Bap­tist World Aid, whose an­nual Eth­i­cal Fash­ion Guide grades brands on their sup­ply chain knowl­edge, au­dit­ing pro­cesses and worker em­pow­er­ment, Anna says that we can make brands take ac­count­abil­ity and ac­tion. “I want peo­ple to ask those ques­tions that brands find so hard to an­swer, and push them for answers. We hold so much power as con­sumers, so let’s use it to help oth­ers.” She points out that some­thing as sim­ple as shop­ping from our own wardrobes next time we have an event to dress up for is an­other way each of us can make a dif­fer­ence. “If you wear an amaz­ing dress, I’m still go­ing to think it’s amaz­ing the next time I see you in it,” she laughs.

For her part, Anna says she’s “by no means a per­fect con­sumer”, but it’s about small changes and build­ing mo­men­tum. “It only takes a small spark to light a wild­fire. We can choose not to en­gage with the ob­vi­ous con­se­quences of our con­sumer be­hav­iour, con­vince our­selves we aren’t con­tribut­ing to a slave­trade econ­omy and ig­nore the cat­a­strophic en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects, or we can ad­dress it. You make a dif­fer­ence. So be pas­sion­ate, com­pas­sion­ate, rat­tle the world and do some­thing. Even if you help just one per­son, isn’t that bet­ter than noth­ing?”

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ANNA LEE Eth­i­cal fash­ion and hu­man rights ac­tivist @an­nalee_____ “Be pas­sion­ate, com­pas­sion­ate, rat­tle the world and do some­thing”

Court­ney Durr (left) and busi­ness part­ner Abbey Palmer have rein­vig­o­rated the art of fit­ness.

Ch­löe threw her­self into the Auck­land may­oralty cam­paign and now has her sights set on cen­tral gov­ern­ment.

“I ac­tu­ally never thought I’d end up in pol­i­tics. I al­ways thought you could achieve more out­side of it”

Meet­ing the peo­ple whose lives have been blighted by their harsh work­ing con­di­tions was a turn­ing point in Anna Lee’s own life.

A ‘Re­al­ity Trip’ to Asia in 2013 caused law stu­dent and eth­i­cal fash­ion ac­tivist Anna Lee to re­think her con­sumer be­hav­iour.

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