HOK #114: Meet Rebecca Clark-Kipfer

“I was born on Wellington Street, back when that retirement home (Grace Manor) was a hospital, the Grace Hospital, and I live just off Wellington now, so it has kind of come full circle. But I’ve moved about 20 times since then – I’ve lived all across Canada and in Brazil, Mexico and Turkey.

I love Hintonburg so much. We moved here I would say eight years ago we bought a condo on Holland Avenue.

We just bought a house in August, and then got our second dog, because we refused to leave the neighbourhood – absolutely refused.

Every piece of it (Hintonburg) is so much fun. There’s nothing that we don’t love. We love the restaurants; we love the coffee shops; we love the plant stores and the little dog stores [we] just like being able to engage in such a vibrant community.

I am a special education teacher. I teach, mostly students with developmental disabilities, a life skills program in high school, but I was seconded this year to work with an educational centre in Ottawa that works with kids in care in treatment programs. 

Right now, I work with [Grades] 7 and 8 boys on their literacy skills, and they are in our program for behaviour and emotional support. But I’ve also worked this year in a couple of juvenile facilities and worked with teenagers who were outpatients in a mental health program. 

I love everything about teaching. I think it’s such an amazing job, and I know it’s been a hard year for us: Every teacher and educator worker that’s out there is a superstar.

My hobbies are basically my dogs. I have two miniature poodles that I love very much.

And I run a slow fashion account on Instagram (@beccaworewhat). I actually started that this year kind of as a combination of things. I work with a therapist on body neutrality and really accepting who I am because that’s a struggle that a lot of people have in modern society. And we decided that it would be a good homework project if I just started putting these things out there and trying not to focus on my body, rather focusing on the clothes, and the community and the ethics behind what I wear.

It’s been such an amazing confidence-building and community-building experience. It’s been incredibly fun I really love doing it.

The slow fashion community is a community that cares about the ethics behind clothing. There’s a lot of different pieces of it, but the pieces of it that are important to me are how are the garment workers treated; what kinds of materials are being used; what’s the environmental impact of the products; and then also, how is that company incorporating diversity so companies that employ and represent different body types, different races, different kinds of folks.

The main idea is that you are engaging in fashion that is not destroying our world, both in terms of people and the environment. And so, garments often cost a little bit more, and are made up of natural fabrics, but they last a lot longer and there’s a really big trading community.

A caveat: I am not a slow fashion expert or [the] slow fashion police. I think people need to engage in the fashion community any way they [like] – fashion is expensive…there is no right or wrong, I just like this community because of how open it is to diversity.

I’m what I call ‘mid-size.’ That’s something I hashtag a lot is #midsizestyle. This mid-size and plus-size style community is growing and I think that everybody just wants to feel represented. So, of course, I only represent a small chunk of people but everybody wants to see what clothes are going to look like on someone that looks like them. I think we just all want to see ourselves so every different body, every different person out there is adding to this conversation.”

Story collected by Maureen McEwan.

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