Are you kind to your body? Let's talk body-positivity.
For the last two years, a small town in Devon has been home to the world’s first - and only - festival of body positivity. Bodykind Festival is the brainchild of former midwife (and ThoughtBox NGT) Dinah Gibbons, who shared her thoughts on why she started up this festival:
“Every day as a midwife I witnessed bodies performing absolute miracles, but what I heard from women was distress and disappointment… They would say things like ‘when is my body going to get back to normal? I hate my stretch marks, my body has failed’,” said Dinah.
She was compelled to investigate why judgement of our own bodies is so normal and who profits from internalised body hatred, and to challenge the marginalisation of certain bodies.
Bodykind is about honouring life in its various forms, rather than comparing oneself or anyone else to an external concept of beauty, with four core principals:
Illuminating and challenging non-acceptance
Meeting fear and shame with sensitivity and kindness
As part of the festival, ThoughtBox Director Rachel facilitated a day at the local secondary school in Totnes with some of the Bodykind team, opening up young people to start talking about some of the issues surrounding body positivity. Students from across the school (Y7 to Y11) engaged in a series of talks and workshops, sharing, exploring and connecting with their feelings and responses to their own body image.
Inspired by talks and workshops from the delightful Stevie Grice-Hart (aka Bopo Boy), Bodyposipanda and @Grace F Victory (to name just a few of the speakers) it was humbling to listen to young people speak openly about body image, eating disorders, bullying and the pressures they feel to look a certain way.
These sorts of conversations need to be had openly and frequently with our young people if we wish to help them feel empowered and in control of their bodies and how they feel about themselves.
Providing a safe space and giving our children the opportunity to talk openly and honestly about issues surrounding body positivity, body image and the pressures they feel seems vital to support their mental health and wellbeing. The more we can help our children to share their anxieties, the better, and the feedback from the pupils at the end of the day was unbelievably positive, with such appreciation shown and shared for being given the opportunity to talk about some of these issues.
Seeing and hearing just how many children were affected and moved by the day and are dealing with their insecurities, turning to self-harm or eating disorders, goes to show that this sort of learning can't wait.
*For a little insight into some of the other activities happening at Bodykind over the festival weekend, here’s a montage of the 2018 event (updated video from this year to follow):