In January I attended the Anti-Diet Riot Fest 2020 and discovered a new campaign called Everyday Lookism. As soon as I saw the aims of the project and the stories shared, I knew I wanted to share it, so here goes with a very personal opening.
I struggle with the way that I look and I know very few people who don’t. I’m plump, unsymmetrical and I just don’t look like a woman ‘should’, you know, slender but curvy, firm tanned skin and all the rest of the enhanced, photoshopped perfection that none of us seem to look like. I thought it would get easier as I got older and the pressures of beauty would ease, but the impeding wrinkles and sagging start to show on the horizon and the pressures actually feel bigger than ever.
No pain, no gain
I’ve worked so hard to ‘fix’ myself, be it the ritual of pricey (cruelty-free) skincare, the four years spent in braces (in my 20s!!) or the continual cycle of dieting and exercise, I could sometimes get within touching distance of an acceptable me. But it never lasts and I’m not alone, my friends and family are mostly doing similar things.
In all these years I’ve always felt the issue lay with me, my face, my body and that the self-inflicted hunger, waxing and surgery recovery (I had my ears pinned back at 14 after a lifetime of bullying) was my penance for just not being pretty/thin/enough. But one day, if I really put in the effort, I’d get there. For the record, I’m still not there.
Is body positivity the answer?
It’s only the recent few years that body positivity and body diversity have started to become more prevalent across social media. There are issues in that as amazing as many of the messages are, I still don’t feel good enough in the figure department and as much as I try, I don’t feel positive about my lumps, bumps or curves. (I have tried!)
Anti-Diet Riot Fest 2020
The Anti-Diet Riot fest is a 12-hour mini festival that aims to rebel against the diet culture that surrounds us each January. Jam packed with discussions and workshops that aims to combat societies obsession with being thin and beautiful.
Some of the sessions I went to throughout the day really challenged me to think about things in different ways. One panel, ‘the politics of ugliness’ brought together a range of influencers and authors in the ‘body positive’ space including Michelle Elman, Imogen Fox, Joely Bishop and Heather Widdows. The panellists shared their own struggles; scars, weight, visible disability and discussed reasons why so many of us feel ‘ugly’ and their own advice for battling the mindset of ugliness.
It was the first time that I began to consider that I might not be the problem. That a panel of five women (and the jam-packed audience that nodded and applauded in agreement throughout) all felt that they didn’t measure up.
I was particularly inspired by a new campaign to end body shaming, shared by Heather Widdows. The ‘Everyday Lookism’ campaign asks people to come together and share their experiences of body shaming anonymously with the aim of showing people that body shaming is never OK. It was created due to Heather’s acknowledgment that body positivity doesn’t work for everyone. (High five Heather!) I suppose I like the community aspect to this anti body shaming campaign – scrolling through the site shows that too many people have had similar experiences. It really made me reflect on how the way we feel about ourselves is in part rooted in the comments we casually and intentionally say to and about one another.
Sometimes lookism comments are subtle, sometimes they’re not, but what this campaign shows us is that we shouldn’t put up with them. It’s also nice to see a campaign like this that isn’t trying to sell you something!
Kick back against body shaming
The more people it reaches, the better. If it resonates with you too then visit the Everyday Lookism website and share your body shaming story.
Thank you to the team at Anti Diet Riot Club for organising such a different and inspiring day of events and talks. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next!