Free To Be Us with Shea Emry


Short synopsis

Former Canadian football player and men’s mental health advocate Shea Emry and award winning documentary film maker Elena Rossini teamed up with Canadian non-profit Free To Be to put the spotlight on an issue that is rarely discussed: how idealized male bodies are impacting our boy’s self-esteem and self-image and why we need media literacy to fight these unrealistic expectactions.

A huge thank you to everyone who made this video possible:

Directed & Edited by: Elena Rossini Writer: Renae Regehr Narrator: Shea Emry

Special Thanks: Joanna Brewster, Erin Treolar, Andrea Wilk. Nathaniel Torok, Jaydon Brewster, Henry Askew, James Askew, Ver Jauhar, Jonathon Wu, Melody Zhao, Jonny Dawes, Liam Dawes, Brianna Dyck, Amirali Taji

Longer synopsis:

Historically body image research has focused on understanding and preventing body image concerns for girls and women. Now over the last 10 years as body image has been put under the microscope, we have expanded the conversation to include boys and men. But there is still much to learn. Boys, younger and younger, are increasingly reporting concerns about their body image. These concerns sometimes present quite differently than girls. We need talk about this to ensure our boys aren’t left behind. We want our sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and friends, to cultivate all of who they are.

Why does this matter?

  • Approx. 50% of girls and boys age 6 – 12 years old are dissatisfied with their bodies. (Reference: ADD HERE)

  • Boys concerns tend to have a functional focus (e.g. desiring leaner muscularity, and wishing specific body parts such as their shoulders, arms, biceps to have a greater functional use), whereas girls concerns typically have an aesthetic focus. (Reference: ADD HERE)

  • Recent studies are revealing disparities among sexual minority boys with higher reports of body image concerns and higher patterns of disordered eating behaviour and appearance management strategies. (Reference: ADD HERE)

  • Males with eating disorders are often suffering with other conditions anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or excessive exercise. (Reference; Add Here)

  • A survey of over 650, 13-18 year boys revealed the four biggest sources of pressures for boys to look good came from first from friends (68%), then social media (57%), followed by advertising (53%), and celebrities (49%). (Reference: Add Here)

Who we are

Shea Emry
Renae Regehr


Elena Rossini is an Italian documentary filmmaker, cultural critic and activist. Rossini's work focuses on issues of social justice, media representation, and the empowerment of women and girls. Her most notable film is the critically acclaimed documentary The Illusionists, about the globalization of beauty ideals, which Rossini shot in eight countries, across four continents. The film has been featured in Vogue Italy, New York Magazine, NPR, FOX and NBC Baltimore, amongst others. Rossini often speaks at international conferences and was selected as Young Leader by the Council for the United States and Italy.

Renae Regehr is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and the founder of Free To Be Talks, a non-profit organization that promotes positive body image to youth, parents, and educators through education in schools, speaking events, and media. Through her MA of Counselling Psychology she developed and tested a research-based curriculum, Free To Be. To date, over 2500 boys and girls have gone through the program. Renae is also the co-founder of Care For Women, a non-profit that supports and resources new mothers and a contributing blogger for the Huffington Post. Her work has been featured in Time, Darling, Good Men Project, and Everyday Feminism among others.


Media: Stills

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Join us and help our boys become all they can be. #freetobeus