Grad student wins Soroptimist Foundation grant for women

York PhD student Jill Andrew in the Faculty of Education was one of four women across Canada to receive the Soroptimist Foundation of Canada’s annual grant for women to help fund her postgraduate studies.

The $7,500 grants are awarded to women studying for careers that will improve the quality of women’s lives. Andrew (BA Hons. ’02, BEd ’03) is currently working on her dissertation, titled “Abject in the City? Stories of Female Corporeality from the Margins,” which focusses on female JillAndrewbody images, personal narratives both in-person and online, body (re)presentations in popular culture and body activisms as resistances against controlling images and socially dominant normalized body ideals.

Jill Andrew

“I am very thankful to this organization and still on cloud 10 about being selected out of some 400-plus reported hopefuls for this distinction. The Soroptimist Foundation of Canada Grant Award sends a strong message to academic institutions and to graduate students like myself,” says Andrew. “They support and will recognize our work as we aspire to help create better lives through outstanding research and activism for women and girls in Canada. I am utterly excited to be in such fine company as Soroptimist and my fellow graduate grant award recipients.”

Within her dissertation, Andrew will explore various topics, including “Fat in the City: Monologues (and narratives) of Corpulent Proportions,” which will document fashion/dress/consumer/blogging and blog discourse experiences of some fat women in Canada, and “Bleached in the City: Erasing Darkness,” an exploration of the socio-cultural, economic, raced and gendered experience of some black female “bleachers” (those who have bleached their skin or thought about doing so) in Canada.

She will also examine where, how and with whom female “marginalized” bodies construct and negotiate identity and belonging as a strategy to help find and execute their oppositional gazes.

Andrew, who says she identifies as a black feminist and fat activist, is curious as to how some females create and sustain spaces within a society in which, all too often she believes, too much “fat” and too much “black” are either fetishized or produce feelings of fear, disgust and disavowal for many.

In addition, Andrew is founder/director of BITE ME! Toronto International Body Image Film & Arts Festival, Curvy Catwalk Fashion Fundraiser and co-founder of Fat in the City, a fashion, news and lifestyle blog.

In 2010, she was one of 120 women from across Canada handpicked by the office of the former Governor General Michaëlle Jean to participate in the first ever Governor General Women’s Conference, Together for Women’s Security.

For more information about the grant or Andrew, visit the Soroptimist Foundation website.