Humans of Mettamade is a recurring project that highlights individuals in the Hamilton community who are actively engaged in the body positivity + body peace space.
In juggling his roles as a movement teacher in Hamilton and experience as a social service worker in Toronto, Chris Bourke attempts to unite the two worlds, exploring how movement teaching combined with counselling can better support his growing community.
While he has ample experience working with youth, his current focus is on supporting the LGBTQ community, and helping people who have experienced oppression and shame to re-embody themselves and ultimately, heal.
Q: Why Mettamade?
I really love how comfortable the clothing is, and the messaging is loving. What really drew me to Metta was not just the fact that I liked the way the clothes looked, but I saw an opportunity to support Morgan in expanding across the gender binary. I could see the possibility in allowing myself and other folx to wear their clothes too, and they were open to that.
Q: Tell us about your body positivity journey.
It’s interesting because I have a lot of body privilege in a thinner body — but it's a double-edged sword in a male body. From a masculinity perspective, being a smaller thin male is seen as... not great. My experience with body positivity has been learning to look at how that intersects with gender, how masculinity has a very different framework around what's a "great body" vs. a female body, and who are often celebrated to be thin.
There is still thinness for men that's a privilege, but if you're a smaller male, you may not be fitting in to masculine standards. I've been coming to looking at those intersections of gender, masculinity and body positivity and working to understand the privilege that I still have. And I think in my own training as a teacher, I've learned a lot about how to make movement more accessible. In our teacher training we wore pillows around our bodies so we could understand what it would feel like to be in a bigger body and actually EMPATHIZE, rather than just learning techniques.
I'm openly uncomfortable sometimes with the conversation, and I don't know where to position myself. But I feel comfortable in discussing body and the non-binary from a position of really understanding, empathizing, and putting effort in.
Q: How do you incorporate body positivity in your life/work?
In both life and work, I really try to be exceptionally validating to people's experiences. I try to put a lot of effort into making everyone feel welcome and included. I also welcome feedback — receiving how some of the things that I might be doing may not be body inclusive, because that happens too. I’m really just giving off a message of love and self-acceptance, and trying to model that.
Q: Tell us about your capsule wardrobe.
I definitely would have something with a floral pattern, and a good pair of blue jeans. I also spend a lot of my time in loungewear. I like to have clothing that I can wear to work and someone might say "you look very professional... but very casual". Where if I take off my denim shirt, it looks like I'm in my pyjamas. I like thinking about how I can dress up loungewear.
Q: What’s your favourite Mettamade Piece:
The Monet Top for sure! I love how flowy it is.
Q: What's one piece of advice you can give others on their body peace journey?
At goodbodyfeel, the movement studio I practice at, we say that it's not about the look, it's about the feel. But in order to feel safe (in your body, or feelings) you need to feel supported. For anyone on a journey to body acceptance, it would be to try to find really good support. I recognize that it can feel really hard and isolating and lonely, but there are many forms of support out there. Practice self-love, appreciate yourself more, and hold higher standards for the people that are supporting you. "I love myself so I'm attracting decent humans," is the idea. The traits of a good support system are that it validates your feelings, and doesn't shame you for any of the feelings you're having. It’s not dismissive, even when your thoughts about yourself are negative. Empathize with the wider social structures that currently exist to work on these things.
You can find Chris at GBF teaching Be Chill + Be Renewed + the early Tuesday morning RISE & THRIVE. In the coming months, you'll see him continuing to share online towards the theme in feeling supported and finding safety during major life changes through his project Anchored Tides. Chris’ website launched at the end of 2019, opening up a clear way to connect with him in a one-on-one setting and focused programming setting. He promotes practical strategies to help individuals and communities find love, care and anchored resilience through heartbreak, grief + loss, separation, and other major life changes / transitions. His work is not therapy or counselling, nor is it intended as a substitute for counselling or therapy. Yet his tried and tested practices will enhance your nervous system's ability to surf chaos, regulate your system and feel safe connecting to others. If you are in the midst of a major life change or feel stuck moving through unexpected change, feel free to reach out to Chris to explore strategies that may help buoy you — and quite possibly alter the course of the current.