Britain Uncovered recently had the opportunity to speak with Cassie Nadeau, a body positivity singer based in New York City. In this exclusive interview, Cassie opens up on her relationship with her body, explains some of the misconceptions surrounding body positivity, and assesses the ways in which her music is empowering listeners across the globe.
Britian Uncovered: In your own words, how exactly would you define 'body positivity', and what does the phrase mean to you?
Cassie: Body positivity is a phrase that is thrown around a lot. In some publications, you might see that it means, “Being okay with a few flaws”. In others, it might define someone’s right to feel beautiful in their skin, with or without a disability, in many different weight classes. For me, I believe it encompasses all of the above, and I summarise it like this:
“All beings should have a powerful and loving body image - no matter what - and challenge the societal views of beauty and comfort within that.”
It’s a kind of self love we are not used to being allowed to have. The idea of loving yourself has some people calling out, “Narcissist!”, before even asking that person about their intentions or experiences. I truly believe self love separates itself from the ego: it's not just about you - it's about you and everyone like you, struggling against societal norms to make a statement that “I am worthy” and “my body holds value”.
We should all be able to look ourselves in the mirror and have a relationship with the person behind it. We should all be able to say, “I love you” to ourselves and truly mean it, and feel confident in the space that we take up. That is self love. That is body positivity.
Britain Uncovered: What were some of your early experiences as it relates to body confidence - whether positive or negative - and how has your relationship with your body developed over the years?
Cassie: When I was young, I struggled with my body, my sex, and my image. I didn’t understand why women were treated differently, why religions put us as a lesser being than men, and why people somehow had the right to say what I was or wasn’t allowed to do with my life and the vessel I was born into. My curves betrayed me and my wishes for a better life. I knew it wasn’t the right mindset.
Years of covering up in boys clothes ten sizes too big for me didn’t do me much good. I was still found out as a curvy woman, I still had expectations placed on me, and I still had barriers put before me that I was not supposed to cross. To someone as head strong as me - that would just not do.
I won’t lie: it took years for me to develop the body positivity and confidence I have now. It took years of trial and error, confusion, and re-evaluation to find my voice. I had to learn how to love the body I was given, I had to find the power I had within that body, and I had to learn how to use it. I also had to re-teach myself what no one else had ever tried to: that I demanded respect and equity in this body I was in.
Now I run a music and burlesque theatre company in New York called “Full Bodied Sound” that allows me to spread these positive messages in a way that truly fulfills me. These things take time and effort… but they are worth it in ways you wouldn’t imagine. Finally allowing yourself to breathe and say, “This is me” will do more for you in an hour than hiding can do in a lifetime.
Britain Uncovered: Our perceptions of our bodies can make a massive difference to how we value ourselves and our overall mental health. How big of an impact can negative thoughts have, and what advice would you offer to those struggling with body confidence issues at present?
Cassie: I don’t think it’s a secret that body image can be directly related to suicide, mental health issues, and dysmorphia. It can even go as deep as to subconsciously direct us in what jobs we allow ourselves to have, what people we cultivate relationships with, and how we allow others to treat us. These negative thoughts about our bodies - no matter the issue - can literally run our lives as if we were just a machine being driven by a mean little alien who never lets us make our own choices. Sometimes, one can even fool themselves into thinking the little alien knows what's best for us, even if we long for something different.
In a world of constant change, we can lose our footing on our own realities. We can start to believe the press and the media, and believe if we don’t have (a, b, c) or we don’t look like (x, y, z) that we hold no worth. We ask ourselves if we even belong in this world. We question our very existence because of a body we were born into - because of something we have absolutely no control over.
I’m sure based on the above your mind races to some of the worst things that can happen when one can not find a way to love themselves. That being said, I ask you to think of the alternative: imagine a world where you have so much love and respect for yourself that everything you do comes from a place of bettering yourself and those around you. Imagine feeling limitless and that your dreams are only as big as your imagination. Imagine feeling loved.
I always ask my students (as I coach mindset and body positivity) to do an exercise. Look into the mirror for at least 20 minutes with no distractions and talk to yourself. It’s certain that in the first minute to five minutes you feel a fool. “This is silly,” most of my students say out loud to themselves. But something magical happens in those 20 minutes. You start to see yourself and thoughts will start popping up like daisies, begging you to address them. You begin to speak to yourself honestly, asking if you are okay and if you need help. You may end up crying, screaming, laughing, or with your nose pressed up against the mirror, but towards the end all of my students end up doing the same thing: you hug yourself and remind yourself that you love YOU.
The above exercise is in my world considered literal gold, and I beg anyone reading to try it. I beg you to sit down, feel stupid, and get through it. You won’t believe the difference.
Britain Uncovered: Through your music, you've found an innovative and novel way of conveying your own body positivity message to help others. How did this first come about, and why do you feel this approach may be more beneficial than other methods?
Cassie: Thank you, I appreciate that. I do believe for me it came out of necessity. Not only for helping myself, but for doing the same for others. I saw the change that this mindset could make and I saw the power of music. I’ve always felt I was meant to help people, but I wasn’t sure how until I began to help myself.
Music is a connector of the people. Music is a gateway into a community of other like-minded humans, all gathering to experience the joy and pleasure of art. Music quite literally saves lives. If I can make a song that speaks to at least one person, I know I have done my job and done it well.
Britain Uncovered: Here in the UK, clothing-optional events are becoming more prominent, and those taking part are coming away feel empowered and more accepting of their bodies. Do you feel such events have a valid role to play, or should people approach these with caution?
Cassie: I, myself, personally do partake in clothing-optional events. I find them to be a celebration of people, of the body, and of this new wave of self-love that I am so addicted to helping people find. If this is something that interests you or that you believe will help you, I say GO FOR IT! That being said, I do want to address a few dangers that are present in our world today:
Erase the idea that you have to get naked to be body positive.
If you are forcing yourself to go to one of these events and forcing yourself to become naked without the proper support system, your intentions can backfire. If you are not ready or feeling as though you have to, this can not only trigger emotions of past abuse but it can also foster new ones. Feeling forced to be nude is NEVER okay and it can hold the same weight as being raped, abused, or accosted. My suggestion is to make sure it’s what you want and make sure it’s something that will empower you. Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it.
That brings us to danger number two at these events. Whether you are a man or a woman, I suggest going to these events with people that you trust and who will be there to support you. Sexual assault and rape definitely still happen at these kinds of events, and just because you believe you are entering a safe space does not mean that’s always the case. If you choose to do these kinds of events you MUST ensure your safety.
Britain Uncovered: What are some of the biggest misconceptions surrounding body positivity, and what are some of the recurring topics and conversation points that you engage with on your Instagram feed?
Cassie: I would say the biggest misconception about body positivity is that it is a challenge between bodies to see who “wins the trophy”. Body acceptance isn’t a competition: just because you have decided to be confident about your particular weight doesn’t mean that any other weight class is less valid. Just because you’ve decided to own your sex and the body you were born in, doesn’t mean that others are not worth as much value as you. When it comes to body positivity, no one is out to win.
In fact, it's quite the opposite. When you fully accept the value you carry, you should spread that feeling and those values to others. You should use your new-found confidence to boost other people up and make them feel just as good as you! Body confidence is a team sport!
I would have to say in my particular fan base on Instagram [you can find Cassie at @cassienadeau], most of my fans are experiencing similar problems. Some of these include: feeling like because society said there were rules to your sex that you’re not allowed to be your full self, having trouble owning your body and the space that you take up, and not having a relationship with yourself. Most of my content for my viewers and listeners surrounds those thoughts and gives you new ways to approach them or think about them.
I am so grateful for my fans who reach out to me and tell me how their lives are changing - it fills me with so much happiness. I also have a lot of fans reach out and tell me secrets they’ve never told anyone before in their lives, and feel that I am the only one who has ever been willing to listen - and this is where I hope I can promote more change. Like I said, it's a team sport, and we all happen to be on the same team. Support yourself by supporting others and the joy will return to you in abundance.
Britain Uncovered: In the grand scheme of things, do you feel that attitudes towards body confidence are changing, and are social media channels helping to guide people towards different, more positive mindsets?
Cassie: I know we have a long way to go before we achieve self love and body positivity in the masses. We haven’t been taught how to get in touch with ourselves and our emotions, and sadness and anger has caused a lot of confusion in this field. I know there is room to grow.
But I also know that we have seen a change in the world of body confidence that we have never seen before. We are seeing more acceptance, more love, and more joy than ever before. We are seeing communities come together to fight for one another, and we are seeing more and more people ready and willing to lift their voices up for those around them who can not do it themselves. I am excited about the change that is happening. We have a long way to go, but we can only get there by starting! And start, we did!
Britain Uncovered: For those interested in checking out your music - which we'd highly recommend - what are the best ways to access your content? Are there any songs you're particularly proud of?
Cassie: If you’d like to check out my body positive music, you can follow me on the following social media channels:
SoundCloud: Cassie Nadeau Music
Or type in “Miss So and So” to Spotify, Pandora, or Apple Music.
For one on one body confidence and mindset coaching, email SeminArt.email@example.com
Thanks for having me, and more importantly - love yourself!