Body Gossip promotes body confidence through the written word and performing arts; so as Spabreaks.com prepares to help celebrate the launch of their first book this evening, former model turned writer and Body Gossip co-founder, Natasha Devon explains why the two organisations are the perfect match!
It was Christmas 2010 and I was having a jolly-old time quaffing free champers at a fashion industry event. I’d dubiously scammed an invite, having once modelled for one of the designers present, during my previous incarnation as a straight-sized model. Now older, wiser and at least three stones heavier, I wanted to experience one of the fashion industry’s notoriously decadent soirees during a time when I’d actually allow myself to consume a canapé.
I was in traditional Natasha Devon party mode – Which is not unlike that of Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. I’m an observer, you see. People watching is, without doubt, one of my favourite pastimes, overshadowed only by listening to Bowie albums at silly volumes whilst laying on my bedroom floor waving my legs in the air and having delicately sliced pieces of Nandos chicken hand-fed to me by a bloke with his shirt off. I surveyed the crowd, who were maniacally ‘mwah mwahing’ each other as though their lives depended on it whilst shrieking with the substance-induced mirth of the season. I, conversely, was frantically stuffing as many ‘mini Yorkshire pudding and roast beef with a horseradish emulsion’ into my mouth as my unforgiving green silk bespoke one-of-a-kind-fifties-inspired frock would allow in a bid to counteract the effects of too many glasses of free Bollinger.
It was at that moment I was descended upon by an old industry acquaintance – a buyer who I’d worked with at a couple of live events and who was notorious for her no-nonsense attitude and propensity for making other women cry. (She once told me that I looked like a fat Megan Fox. I was a size 8 at the time). Originally from Russia and renowned for her partiality to botox, she spoke almost entirely without moving her face and was prone to a peculiar mixture of understated melodrama (“darlink, if you vear those shoes then I vill have to kill myself”).
“Darlink! You look so sexy even though your breasts are vuining the line of that dress” was her opening conversational gambit.
“Erm, thanks” I replied.
“Listen darlink I hear you are now doing ze ‘Body Gossip’? Vot is this?” she asked, pronouncing the word ‘Body Gossip’ the way someone else might say ‘severed mouse head found amongst a steaming pile of horse vomit’.
I launched into what Ruth and I fondly refer to as the ‘Body Gossip elevator pitch’:
“Body Gossip is a campaign which promotes diversity and acceptance in the field of body image by inviting the public to share their real body stories and submit them to our website. We then transform a selection of what we receive into short films and live theatre events starring a celebrity cast. The idea is that the silenced masses are given a voice to express themselves, in a world obsessed only with extreme forms of body”.
(I could literally recite this in my sleep. The elevator pitch has been rolled out for everyone from Stephen Fry who I once met in a lift at the BBC, to random people I drunkenly encounter in pubs in North London).
“Vight…..Vight. Yes! I see vot dis little campaign of yours is. But darlink! You are the wrong person to vun it!”
“Vhy…..I mean…..why?” (note to self: Must stop accidently mimicking other people’s accents).
“Because you are gawjus, darlink! You are beautiful! You do not need ze ‘body acceptance’!”
“Am I? I thought you said I looked like a fat Megan Fox?”
“Megan Fox is stunning, darlink. It voz a compliment.” She folded her arms and peered at me in a challenging manner between the strands of her oh-so-sweepy fringe.
“and anyvay” she continued “if you are SO concerned vith the ‘inner beauty’…” (again ‘inner beauty’ was pronounced the way you or I might say ‘the political regime of 1940s Germany’) “then VHY have I never seen you looking anything less than immaculate?”.
This is a more common misconception than you might think. Simply because I am an advocate for a spectrum of beauty – a time when our ideas about attractiveness will encompass a wide range of shapes, sizes, ages and races – does not mean that I spend my life wearing no makeup, rat-gnawed wooden sandals and a hessian sack.
People who believe in the importance of inner beauty do not entirely neglect the outer variety. We still have bodies. We aren’t floating brains in jars. True body confidence is about relegating outer beauty to where it belongs – to a place of fun and glamour, girly giggles, pink things and dressing tables adorned with scattered lip glosses and half-drunk glasses of chardonnay whilst Beyonce blares in the background.
Beauty becomes toxic when it starts to occupy more brain and life space than it should. When makeup is something you apply like a mask because you cannot bear the judgment you imagine will befall you if you step outside your front door without it. Or your friends stop inviting you out because you’ve become one of those intolerable ‘gym bores’ who lulls your acquaintances into a tedium induced coma with tales of ‘reps’, ‘fat/muscle ratio’ and ‘magic’ protein powder.
It is perfectly possible to be walking along a high street contemplating the extent to which you believe passionately that beauty paradigms in our society have become terrifyingly narrow whilst simultaneously being excited at the sight of a truly gorgeous pair of hot pink suede stilettos in a shop window.
The same applies to pampering our bodies. Beauty therapy and products are there for our enjoyment, to evoke feelings of joy and decadence. Body confidence is about feeling entitled to treat yourself, once in a while.
That’s why we at Body Gossip are so beside ourselves with delight to have teamed up with Spabreaks.com for the launch of our very first book. The book is an anthology of more than 300 real body stories written by people from all over the UK, with a foreword by Mr Body Confidence himself, Gok of the Wan and today, we are hosting a spangly, sparkly book launch event, sponsored by Spabreaks.com.
Like the fashion event I attended in 2010, there will be free champagne. Unlike the aforementioned event, EVERYONE at the Body Gossip book launch can proudly declare “I am beautiful”.
For more information about Body Gossip and their new book visit: http://www.bodygossip.org/
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