Next Thursday we are going to be sharing the stage with Toronto based beauty and badass Maya Killtron. She will be the first guest artist in our monthly residency at The Rivoli on Queen Street West in downtown Toronto.
We asked Maya if we could interview her with a few questions about the music business and body image. What was intended to be a quick interview in the car while we drove across town turned into an hour of being stuck in rush hour traffic while discussing everything from female empowerment, to snack time, to the ultimate fate of the world. Instead of hating on terrible Toronto gridlock, we got to really dive into the genius brain that is Maya's. She is funny, observant, incredibly smart and articulate. Not to mention talented an beautiful. Chatting with her about relationships, love, consumerism, body positivity, Meghan Trainor and so many other topics was such an incredible joy, we couldn't possibly do just one single blog post about it!
Transcribed below is part one of our hilarious, intelligent and very real discussion. Stay tuned for part two coming next Friday!
Spandettes: We love to talk to women about self love and body image. Can you talk to us a little about your relationship to body image?
Maya: As far a getting over body image, I don't know if I have. I don't know if I ever will. It's an ongoing process. I think many woman tell you at varying age groups, that the older you get, you learn to be more self accepting. It just so happens that we are in an industry that doesn't actually follow those general rules. Where in fact, it creates a feeling of never being satisfied with yourself.
Personally, maybe I'm going down a big rabbit whole here, and some people may object, but I feel like the idea of being body positive within our industry is being destroyed by people like Mehgan Trainor. I don't actually feel that is very body positive. I feel that when you're talking about being body positive, it should have nothing to do with how others view you, whereas in that song, it says 'My mama says not to worry about your size, cause boys like a little more booty to hold at night'. Where I think if her mom had just said 'don't worry about your size'. Period. I think that would have been an excellent statement. If you're saying 'even though your big and you have a big butt, someone will still want to sleep with you, don't worry'. And I just feel like, you're still letting someone else dictate your self worth. Which is preposterous.
Lizzy: Well and she's also demonizing thinner women in the song with the lyrics…I can't remember what the lyrics are...
Maya: 'I'm bringing booty back, go 'head and tell them skinny bitches that'…yeah…With this inclusive campaign there's also this counter campaign that says 'I am a model, I do have this body type, can you stop turning me into a villain?' I think that's also ridiculous.
Spandettes: Can you tell us a little about your style? You've got an awesome aesthetic.
Maya: Thank you! I can't take any credit for it 'cause I was styled by Jess Nasen of Aritzia in New York. She pretty much said, 'can you stop wearing so much crazy stuff?', which I did fight for a bit. But then she turned me into a minimalist. So now I only wear black and white, very teeny pockets of colour. She told me to invest in things that fit really well. Also her emphasis was not so much on fast fashion, which is what we're all sort of subject too. She was like 'if there's a silhouette that makes you look great, stick to it' Which also, as far as our industry goes, solidifies you're one branding. So Thank you Jess Nasen!!
Spandettes: We wanna talk about #SnackMonday. For those who don't know, every Monday Maya puts out a video featuring different snacks. It's truly wonderful. It's funny and sexy and frankly, very empowering to us.
Maya: I've learned, I eat for me.
Maggie: I think you're making a lot of boys and girls happy with those videos.
Lizzy: I just wanna go out and buy a big jug of Nutella every time I see your videos!
Maya: There's a fine line between pushing your brand and getting yourself out there and also being an egomaniac. If you can do it in a way that is not too self deprecating, which is also a problem when you put yourself down so much. You need to be able to say 'I can sing, I'm really pretty and I really like snacks.' And there's this amazing filter that puts it all together in the most glossy way on snapchat. Thank you 4 Korners for teaching me for an hour how to use snapchat!
Spandettes: We are all huge RuPaul fans. She has so many mantras that we can absolutely live by. Our favourite one is, If you can't love yourself….
All together: How in the hell you gonna love someone else?!?
Maya: Can I get an amen!?!
Lizzy: Amen! Exactly! That one hit home for me when I was about 25. When I finally realized 'Oh shit, I have to be a full person to love someone and be loved, that makes so much sense!'
Maya: I mean, that's kinda the name of the game and we're in an industry that is designed to make you question your love for yourself. In order to survive you have to please as many people as possible and have as many people as possible financially buy into who you are. If you're not something that people are buying into you, then you won't survive. So naturally, if your business is failing, your self esteem is going to fail with that.
I'm super jealous of people who can just unabashedly go about life and really have like this zero fucks attitude, regardless of how they feel. We all have those moments when we see another woman on the street and think 'why are you wearing that?' and then you have to check yourself. That has nothing to do with me, so why am I feeling this way? So until that can equalize and you can walk down the street and smile at somebody else, it's not gonna change. Or at least not over night.
Spandettes: There is a culture of pitting women against women and constant competition. To be dressed better, to have better hair, to be thinner OR to have bigger boobs or a bigger butt. We're glad that we're seeing this shift towards more and varying body types generally. But there is still a sense of competition, not always inclusion in that shift.
Maya: Yeah, There's a sense of justifying. We can justify your size -because-…Well no, that's not really the point. I do like the idea that fashion brands, as far as clothing is concerned are becoming generally more accessible to all women, and to men! I think one of the biggest faux pas of the year - I don't really shop here anyways - but I've been speaking out about this 'cause, I'm really mad. It was Abercrombie has a fake inclusive body campaign as a joke for April fools. They didn't even tell the plus size models included in the campaign. It was an add featuring men in varying sizes sporting Abercrombie clothes. It was the biggest middle finger. I don't know in what department someone thought this was hysterical, but there is a trend where, if we're going to look at statistics, 60% of the United States is considered plus size. That is an incredible market. This is a result of many things. So why are we continuing to pursue an unrealistic idea of beauty?
Lizzy: Yes, I always felt as a kid I was the over weight one in my group of friends, I thought 'well, that's fine, I'll be the funny one, I might be fat but I can be funny.' And that's not a great feeling. Then the body positive movement comes around and I see all these images of beautiful women of all sizes and I think 'I can be pretty!' Then you see something like Abercrombie's joke commercial and it's just so shaming. It's so shaming. It brings all those feelings back. It confirms that I can't be pretty and that I have define myself in some other way, because women are made to feel like we are as valuable as we are beautiful. So if I can't be beautiful that what am I? It's a cycle that's hard to break.
Maya: Yeah I don't like that, it's like saying you can be pretty…but…that's one thing that I found when I was doing online dating. People love to define you by what you look like. This guy sent me a message like, "I See you've got some exotic in you". And I was kinda like WHAAAT? I appreciate that you recognize that I'm not white, that's fine, but can you ask that in a non-weird way?
I feel like there's a big catch 22 with all this stuff. In the 80's growing up, the idea about cultural appropriation hadn't hit the main stream. Also we dealt with higher levels of inequality. So it was ok to put certain jokes and certain feelings on TV. Now we have a much more aware audience. People who didn't otherwise have a voice, now have a very strong voice. Now people have to check themselves. Does this make people a little bit more sensitive? I don't know. I would love to make some of the jokes that I used to make when I was younger, but I know now I can't make that joke. Just because I'm Asian, I can't make all the Asian jokes. It's not cool because traditionally Asian people didn't have a big presence in media, now it's a lot stronger. We put more asian people on TV. Azis Ansari is a prime example of that. When it comes to different body types and sizes it's like, if you still look at different TV shows, what is that show? Mike and Molly! It's like they're saying 'we can put bigger people on TV but they have have their own show, they can go over here'. 90210 is still over there. It's kinda like, that's not really what we're going for here. And also, Mike and Molly really sucks, so do they leave all the good writers for the skinny people? I don't know. I think it's one of those issues that the more people talk to each other about it, hopefully the more people will react positively about it.
Catch up with us for part 2 coming soon as we chat with Maya more about cultural appropriation, the internet, global warming, farming and consumerism. Thanks Maya for your beautiful mind!