When Danielle Catton set out to host an inclusive, body-positive beach party she thought a few dozen people might show up.
“I figured we would just rent the beach pavilion at Canatara Park and have a little private celebration,” she said. “Maybe 40 or 50 people.”
But within hours of posting the event online, 200 people had reserved their free tickets for the Aug. 16 “Curvy Beach Party.”
“It became clear that this is obviously a need in our community,” said Catton, whose goal is to provide a space for people with different body types to come together and feel comfortable in their own skin, and to enjoy the beach free from shame and judgment. “People are really embracing it.”
Catton, a well-known mental health advocate, is the founder of the successful grassroots dialogue series Sarnia Speaks, and runs a personal blog called Danielle Is Anxious.
She decided to bump up the party’s capacity to 500 — expanding it to include the beach, bandshell and pavilion. Donations accepted at the event will benefit the Eating Disorder Outreach Program at Bluewater Health.
“For most people, putting on a bathing suit and going to the beach or pool seems like such a simple thing to do. But for a lot of people it’s actually extremely difficult,” said Catton, admitting that for years she dreaded summer and the thought of putting on shorts, tank tops, and swimsuits.
“It can be especially hard for people who are not existing in a body that’s what society says it should be… we’re told to hide because our bodies might offend or disgust somebody.
“I just really wanted to create a space where people can come feel safe, where they won’t feel ridiculed simply for exposing their bodies, and kind of going against that societal acceptance.”
The event is co-hosted by local comedian Lauren Crighton and will include a DJ, fashion show (open to everyone), body painting, photos, guest speakers, and confidence and self-love workshops. Tickets are being reserved from as far as Toronto and the U.S.
“People are messaging me saying, ‘I don’t even own a bathing suit, but I’m going to go buy one so I can come to this,’” she said, adding all body types are welcome.
“I know it’s called ‘curvy’ beach party, but it’s important to include all bodies because it doesn’t matter if you’re thin or not, you have your own set of insecurities.
“I think at the end of the day we’re all just trying to love ourselves.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Curvy Beach Party: an inclusive celebration promoting body positivity and self-love
WHEN: Aug. 16, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
WHERE: Canatara Park
DETAILS: For full event details, visit danielleisanxious.com/curvybeachparty