Rocker, actress and activist Bif Naked can now add doctor to her list of achievements.
Mark Evered, president of the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), made a surprise announcement that the Vancouver musician will receive an honourary doctorate from the university at convocation in June.
Bif Naked had just finished giving a speech about body image and the media, as part of International Women’s Day activities at the Abbotsford campus of UFV, when Evered made the announcement.
He said the doctorate is in honour of Bif Naked’s contribution to the arts and her life-changing work with women.
A breast cancer survivor and punk rocker, Bif Naked shared her unique experience as a woman in a male-dominated industry, and a public figure undergoing cancer treatment.
Bif Naked said she struggled with her body image while trying to fit in and keep up with the men in the music business, saying it was a struggle to stay empowered as a woman.
“I found out they still yelled all the same things that hot little punk-rock boys yell at girls on a stage… I had to adapt to that.”
She kept the crowd laughing as she told the story of her fight against breast cancer, saying she used her humour to get through the difficult time.
Bif Naked explained that after being diagnosed with cancer, she joined a clinical trial to test the effect of exercise on the bone density of cancer patients. She bonded with the other women in the trial and said it became something of an accidental support group, developing camaraderie and affection between the women who were all different ages and from diverse backgrounds.
“It really was a study in fellowship and the power women have to heal.”
She said going through breast cancer made her think less about her image and just enjoy life. Though, she admitted that women in cancer-treatment often worry about things like losing their hair, which she said is common and understandable.
“We’re still chicks,” she laughed.
Bif Naked spoke about the importance of women supporting each other. She said there is an unspoken bond between women that needs to be recognized, instead of perpetuating the idea of women as rivals.
“This is a powerful message that I think is important for young people,” said Lisa Morry, the UFV Faculty and Staff Association’s representative on the Status of Women. Morry, who has organized the International Women’s Day activities, was very excited to bring Bif Naked to campus.
“She inspires me because of her positive attitude in battling cancer and dealing with a marriage breakup, while still pursuing her love affair with music… Bif Naked presents the image of a very strong woman who has faced some significant setbacks, but keeps getting up again and carrying on.”