Graphic artist Gillian Berry, who teaches at Cowichan Secondary School’s Quamichan Campus, has designed a poster that will be used province-wide to combat eating disorders.
The Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness campaign announced that Berry’s poster is expected to find its way to libraries, mental health centres, and other high profile locations to help boost awareness.
It’s been an exciting challenge, according to the artist, who also owns Wild Blossom Studios.
"The design process was an interesting one," she said, "because I was not working from a blank canvas. I was given a few parameters such as ‘Your weight is not your worth’ and asked to create some sort of graphic to enhance its meaning.
"Initially, I played around with words and simple graphics, like hearts, to explore a design for the poster. For a number of days, I was trying to find deeper symbols and meaningful ways to represent weight and worth. I thought of things like fishing and how a fish’s weight determines its worth, to other sayings like ‘You’re worth your weight in gold’. I was thinking too much and needed to let go of the thoughts, and just draw something."
Berry’s mission through Wild Blossom is all about sharing inspiration through stationery, other art forms, and inspirational posts to help others "be you, express yourself".
And that follows naturally from her daily life.
"It parallels my work at school, hoping to inspire students both to be and express themselves, in little and big steps," Berry said.
"So often we hold ourselves back from who we really are, especially in the teen years when we want to fit in for fear of ridicule and being different," she said.
"When students open up and start projects that they love, there is so much growth and passion that comes alive in them. It’s not an easy road, but this is where I want to support, and encourage them, to carry on."
Berry’s design for the PEDAW poster features a scale as the central image with a twist: instead of pointing to a number, it points to and highlights the word "irrelevant," complementing the theme of the poster.
The message is apt. "Students are inspired when teachers/counsellors model what they’re passionate about. I want to be someone who expresses creatively and encourages students to do the same, as the arts are very important to me," she said.
PEDAW is a province-wide effort to raise awareness around prevention of and early intervention for eating disorders as well as media literacy, resiliency, building healthy body image and self-esteem.
The initiative is led by Jessie’s Legacy Eating Disorders Prevention Program at Family Services of the North Shore in collaboration with Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre, Looking Glass Foundation, St. Paul ‘s Specialized Adult Eating Disorder Program, BC Children’s Hospital Eating Disorders Program, Healthy Minds, Healthy Campuses and Project True.