At 25 years old, Elly Mayday, AKA “The Curvy Canadian”, was offered a modelling contract made of dreams with JAG Models in New York. Simultaneously however, she was also diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer.
She point blank refused to let her carcinoma stop her from achieving her dreams and she continued to model throughout her treatment, including having a hysterectomy and losing her hair from chemotherapy. Her story captured the hearts of the world – she became even more of a body image hero for women of all body types and fought hard to prove that having cancer doesn’t stop you being beautiful. Since then, her career – and her health – have gone from strength to strength.
Elly has worked closely with Forever Yours Lingerie who cater to women of all shapes and sizes and is starring alongside beauties Laura Wells and Kerosene Deluxe in “A Perfect 14” – a documentary exploring the world of plus-size models who are fighting to reshape the fashion industry and society’s beauty standards.
Hi Elly! The last few years have been pretty full on for you, how is life treating you?
Life is good, I’m happy! I feel like I have made it through the thick of things and am excited and ready for 2015.
You appear to be a very body confident woman. Have you ever experienced any self esteem issues?
I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have self esteem issues! Growing up, I was bullied and teased because of my weight so I didn’t have much self esteem until I was in grade 11/12.
How would you say you conquered this?
I overcame these issues, not by avoiding them, but by being secure with myself. I didn’t let people’s opinions change the kind of life I wanted to live. I joined in many sports and did what made me happy. I’m thankful I had the guts to do so, I would have missed out on so many opportunities that make me, me! Having a supportive, caring family is the only reason I am who I am today.
2014 was a great year in terms of beginning to diversify the fashion industry, with models like Ashley Graham, Robyn Lawley and yourself shaking up the kind of images we’re used to seeing in the media. What would you like to see happen this year?
Yes, it really was! I would like to see the differences set aside. I would like all models to be placed on the same platform, after all, a model is a model. We are the best versions of our own beauty.
How do you feel about the term “plus size”?
It’s way too broad and undefined in my opinion. Size 8- 24 and beyond? C’mon!
One thing that stands out to me when looking through your social media feeds is your positivity. You radiate it! I think it’s very important to spread positive energy online as there is on overwhelming abundance of negativity. Do you have any tips on remaining positive and upbeat?
I like to just enjoy myself. I wake up, put on some music videos, check out my Facebook page and just take the day in. I try to help someone everyday and that keeps me pretty happy. Having positivity makes positive people gravitate towards you. It’s nice to be surrounded by that.
Alexis Kelly Photography
What advice would you give to a young person – of any gender– experiencing negative body image?
Keep your head up and don’t let people bring you down. Wade Boggs said that our lives are not determined by what happens to us but how we react to what happens. Not by what life brings us but the attitude we bring to life. I really believe that.
With everything that life has thrown at you, is there a particular mantra or quote that inspires you in day to day life?
My great uncle had an old little wooden canoe in his home with “Love many, trust few and learn to paddle your own canoe.” inscribed on it. I love the meaning behind that.