Movement looks different for all of us, and there’s no one ‘right’ way to move. Some of us are marathon runners (not me), and some of us love an ooey-gooey stretch on our yoga mat (a little more my speed). But anything that feels good for your body in that moment is really good — even just getting outside for a walk and claiming that time to reconnect with yourself. Now more than ever, movement has the power to change outlooks and headspaces.
We caught up with Lauren Sundstrom (she/her): trans woman, model, dumpling lover, and all-around lovely human to talk about movement and a bit of everything else. Lauren uses her platform to empower and educate, and the community she’s built has a uniquely inclusive feeling. Let’s get to know her — shall we?
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself!
Oh goodness. Well, for some reason the first thing that always comes to mind when asked to describe myself is my age (31) and that I’m a trans woman. Of course, there’s a lot more to me than just that. I’m also increasingly dipping my toes into living more ethically and sustainably through better clothing purchases. My background is in journalism and marketing and I’m engaged to a wonderful man who runs his own business (@therealdumplingking on Instagram if you’re so inclined)! My family is beyond important to me.
Q: Do you have any exciting personal projects you’re working on right now?
I’m currently raising funds to sponsor a transgender Iranian refugee who desperately needs to resettle in Canada. That’s definitely my top personal project that I’m working on. More information can be found over on my Instagram account, but we’re well on our way to our goal and it makes me so happy to see people rally around this the way they have.
Q: You have such a positive, inclusive way of speaking on everything from mental health to trans rights. What’s helped you find your voice?
I have a lot of incredible trans folks that I look up to — Munroe Bergdorf, Sarah McBride, and Janet Mock just to name a few — who have inspired me to approach these conversations the way that I do. I’m not always an angel when it comes to talking about these topics, of course. I’m human and I get emotional! But I strive to do better, always.
Q: Speaking about mental health (especially amidst a global pandemic and intermittent lockdowns)… What helps to keep you sane?
My partner helps keep me grounded. And my good fortune that I have lots of projects on the go to keep busy. I have to say though, I haven’t seen my parents in months and it’s starting to get to me. My father is immunocompromised and both of my parents are in an at-risk age category, so it’s just a bummer that for their safety I have to stay away until BC’s numbers start to lower. But, I’m definitely not the only one in this situation and there’s a faint light at the end of the tunnel.
Q: What has changed the most about your relationship to movement and exercise in the past five years?
Well…I’d say the biggest thing is not forcing myself to move when I’m not feeling it and not using exercise as a punishment for eating. Now I move because I want to and it helps with my mental health. Without movement, my mental health truly takes a nosedive. My favourite thing to do is go on a nice 10 km walk around my neighbourhood, which happens to be near an incredible provincial park. Tree bathing FTW!
Q: Activewear models, up until very recently, have reflected a super narrow (and mostly unattainable) fitness standard. As a model and a trans woman, what groups would you like to see better represented?
Well, the thing is, even though I’m a trans woman, I’m also white and mostly pass for cisgender (non-trans). So more visible gender diversity would be rad, as well as racial diversity. Black trans women face massive underrepresentation in media and really do deserve and need platforms in spaces where they are all but invisible, which includes the activewear space.
Q: The space surrounding movement and fitness has a tendency to feel really toxic and exclusive. How have you found and claimed your space within it?
Good question. I think trying to ignore the noise of what one “should” do and just sticking to what feels good has helped me immensely. Long walks feel good. Hopping onto the elliptical for 45 minutes feels good. A little yoga feels amazing. Keeping exercise low-pressure has helped me actually enjoy it.
Q: Your fiancé is The Dumpling King. I’ve tried his dumplings and they are SO good. What’s your favourite dumpling he makes, and what else are you craving these days?
Ha! I love that you’ve tried his dumplings. Thanks for the support. He makes so many excellent flavours, but there are two special edition flavours that aren’t always available that I adore: his God of War flavour and his Chaozhou flavour. The latter involves this incredible braising technique and it’s making my mouth water just thinking about it.
Whether this interview has left you craving dumplings, in the mood to move, or feeling energized by Lauren, we’re here for it. Maybe a downward dog or two, followed by some dumplings and a good scroll through Lauren’s Instagram? We’ll leave it up to you. Now more than ever, it’s important to listen to our bodies, our minds, and be kind to both.
Lauren wears the High Rise Legging and Longline Active Bra in Agave Green (photos 1 & 2), the Mesh Insert Legging and Mesh Insert Bra in Periscope (photo 3), and the Bike Short in Meteorite with the French Terry Crop Hoodie in Henna Red (photo 4). Get her looks for yourself: shop our activewear.