Monday, 30 May 2022

Got out of my head!

Got into some art!

I'm just going to start by saying this title has got me singing Billy Ocean, but that's not the point of this blog, so moving onπŸ˜„...

Anyway. Last week was definitely one of ups and downs (not that I seem to have many that just pootle along), and so I had to be really minded of my mental health and wellbeing. I was struggling to get some reports written and the harder I tried to sit and focus the more frustrated I became.

Something I'm pretty good at is giving myself a talking to and taking the advice I'd give others both from a HR perspective and a body confidence one. There were various things I could do, but I realised that one of them was to take a break and do something creative. As fate (or faith) would have it I came across a community message about a mixed media workshop taking place and signed up for it straight away. I booked two tickets and encouraged my son to come with me.

It was great for both of us. He got out of his room. I got out of my head. For a few hours we created, chatted and competed (with ourselves piece by piece, rather than each other much), supported and encouraged by Yvonne.

We created four pieces each, each of them unique. Each of them created simply working with what materials we given - from old magazines to scraps of material. I realised that each piece I'd created represented a different aspect of me, at the moment. And all of them are works in progress that could be tweaked a little more... or accepted just as they are, they don't need more and chances are I'd 'ruin' them if I kept going because art isn't meant to be perfect - whatever that is. Tweaked or left, no grand and sweeping changes are required as they are already special. 

That's you/us too - Working with what we've got. Unique. Special. 

So many lessons in just two hours including:

  • Movement is good
  • Breathing and just sitting still (with yourself) for a bit is also good
  • Company is good
  • Art is good
  • Abandon is good (in a safe space)
  • Learning new things or new ways is good
  • We have many parts to ourselves
  • And we are many things
  • Each part plays a part
  • Each part is valuable
  • Sometimes we've done enough
  • Sometimes things are left unfinished
  • Aiming for 'perfect' can lead to 'ruin'
  • Things get messy, messy is ok
  • Just make sure and wash your hands and clear up after
  • Starting and getting something down is better than not starting at all
  • We deserve to get out of our heads
  • It is healthy to get out of our physical spaces too
  • We are created to be creative
  • We can only work with what we've got
  • We are art ourselves - unique and special
  • We are enough

So, do whatever works for you. For some people it's exercise, for others getting into nature and for others it's about rustling something up in the kitchen or their sewing room. Different things will work at different times. And sometimes, doing nothing is the best thing. Reflect. Repeat what works. Even revisit what didn't work this time. Enjoy.

I wish you well, Denise.

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I: bodyconfidencecards_db
T: @_BodyConfidence
F: Body Confidence Card Club

PS - I made progress on one report today and one deadline was eased so I'm defo more confident I'll get it done well now. Phew!

PPS - go follow Yvonne on Insta.

Monday, 2 May 2022

In the rear-view - April reflections

I’m on my 4th newsletter and one of the regular sections has been “In the Rear View” where I look at what’s been going on in the BC space or for me in the previous month...

...So far, I’ve not been stuck for points to reflect on and this month is no different in many ways. However, this month a couple of reflections may be quite triggering, so to give people more a choice to engage I'm sharing them as a blog. The two hot topics of April have been the adding of calories to menus, and talk of skinning shaming following a post by Matt Lucas. So below, I share a few reflections. In addition, I‘m really pleased to say that I’ve been working on a few other related activities, that have been much more positive.

  • Calories on Menus πŸ“‘

The hot topic in the BI space at the moment is that as of last month restaurants with over 250 outlets have to show calories on their menus. There is no middle-of-the-road on this one for me (which is rare), and I find the decision absolute baloney - it's so damn lazy and lacking in foresight.

Luckily, people like Hope Virgo have shared ways around it such as eating at small, independent local places and asking others to read menus to you. Like the BMI, this is not really a medically inspired intervention - it stigmatises food, takes the joy out of eating out, hampers progression from eating disorders (ED’s), and doesn’t address the myriad of reasons why people are (fat aka) in higher weight bodies.

Perhaps my biggest issue though is that calories don’t equal healthy, any more than thinness does. Calories do not tell us the actual nutritional value of food and can be misleading in this context. And there's more if we start to consider what 'healthy' means, defined by who, too! Let's just say we should all remember good mental health and happiness are indicators of health; and that health is broad, for example, links to socio-economic status.

As you’ll know I’m not anti-dieter and recognise the many reasons people choose to diet, but I am anti-diet industry misrepresentations and manipulation. I’m not the expert on this, but please check out the numerous news articles on the subject and follow those such as Hope and the FatDoctor for their perspectives on social media, because the views from Dr. Hillary Jones just ain’t the ones.

  • The shame of 'Skinny-Shaming' πŸ—«

Comments made to Matt Lucas have (re)started the conversation around so call skinny-shaming. The last time it was a hot topic in my brain was the backlash to Megan Trainer's (still catchy) "All about the Base". Body shaming is never ok. Making unsolicited comments on another person's body, even if you think you are being positive, is rarely a good idea (ask if you need me to expand) and you even need to tread very carefully responding to a person's ask of your opinion.

Let's be serious though, skinny shaming - whilst as painful for an individual as any form of body shaming - just isn’t as broad and deep a structural societal issue as fatphobia. (Please be clear I am not saying it isn’t an issue - I know you have to shop special as size 4 as well as at anything over an 18).

In reality, and to be clear, ANY & ALL BODY SHAMING NEEDS TO GO IN THE BIN. Any body commentary is a risk when said/ heard directly or indirectly. Instead, think about complimenting a person for something else. Say nothing. Talk about how something makes a person feel. Point out the positive. Seek to understand their negative thinking or need for validation. Just try something different, be different - there are enough body image messages already.

  • Other stuff πŸ“°

In the last month, 'Damson Belle' put their toe back in the image consulting pool and I’ve got back to doing colour analysis. I’ve also delivered an updated Body Happy Kids (BHK) workshop and been developing a Body Confidence (BC) journal.

Doing colour analysis is such a joy giver and bringer - I'm very happy to say my client was very happy. I'm looking forward to doing a style session soon, but I will be applying more of a BC approach to it.

Doing BHK workshops underpins the work I do with young adults and adults. Issues later in life are often a result of unresolved childhood challenges and narratives, so being part of an organisation that starts the conversation early is so important to me.

As for the Body Confidence journal - I am working with a few people to get it right including two coaches and a Doctor, as well as my designer the superb Ces Loftus. I’m just putting it out there in the hope it gives me a nudge, but that’s all I can say on it for now.


Phew, it’s been a deep and busy month!

Hope all is well with you!

As for me, I better finish the actual newsletter!

Take care, Dx

I: bodyconfidencecards_db
T: @_BodyConfidence
F: Body Confidence Card Club

Saturday, 9 April 2022

Thoughts from a fall!

And other issues...

How often do you take the workings of your body for granted?

I suspect many of us take the things we are able to do for granted, such is

the focus on looking and feeling good in society. 

As I prepared my newsletter, I reflected on last month during which I had

not one but three reminders to be ‘grateful’* for living largely pain free in

a body that doesn't need society to make reasonable adjustments -

especially as it, and many of us, are oblivious to what adjustments truly

need to be made.

The first was that my boy was in pain with a knee condition (he’ll be fine),

and secondly I had a sore leg and hip (I am fine).

Both may cause long-term niggles... O’s issue is manageable but not funny,

mine was avoidable-ish and had a tinge of the comedic about it.

Yes, folks, I took a cartoon style tumble into mud on a walk during A pause outdoors – TheKateOutdoors. Mud - 1. Ego - 0.

In my case, I am glad I can laugh about it and glad for the reminder to

appreciate the home I am/we are.

The third reminder however was a much bigger one, and will require

major adjustments for a loved one.

All I'll add is please don't ignore health warning signs, especially you men.

If, and when, your body talks folks... Please, listen.

Denise x

(*Note: I have tried not to be ableist in this piece, but welcome feedback
on how it might be not so in the future if any of this was insensitive)

I: bodyconfidencecards_db
T: @_BodyConfidence
F: Body Confidence Card Club

Friday, 11 February 2022

It's Encanto's diversity for me...

...Beyond (not) talking about Bruno!

I finally saw Encanto, woo hoo!

Lots of talk about Luisa, and rightly so but there's more - there's... 
(in alphabetical order, no favouritism here!)

Luisa is the - some-might-say - surprising star of the film for her strength and size, combined with her expressions of vulnerability. She is not your typical Disney female, and yet it is her (less available) merchandise that is apparently sought after.

I am so here for it!And I have another reason for loving it - my brand journey started with my own Mirabelle (spelt differently) who, like me, has the butterfly as a symbol. However, I can't talk about Disney movies without at least a mention of the issues surrounding them, such as the battle there was for the Luisa we have, stereotypical princesses and 'he'roes, why the name Bruno?* (unless just for the song!) and the latest controversy being the Snow White remake."Why does it matter?" you might ask, well... because stereotypes are limiting, the slim/pretty = healthy/good narrative is subtly divisive and damaging, and frankly representation matters. (Next up I look forward to black characters who remain human for a whole Disney movie, but I'll accept their progress and hang on to Wakanda!)

2-Year-Old Girl Reacts To Looking Like Mirabel From 'Encanto' -

There's lots more on this through Body Happy Kids, who I deliver training with, by the way - but, for now lets just go with the positive shift our love of Luisa brings.And before I go here's a few other kids shows/films I think deserve a shout-out (though they're not without some challenges also)- Brave: Merida the character was described as a 'tomboy' and proposed changes to her in merchandising, such as shrinking her waist size, sparked debate and were knocked back.
- Sing: showing talent comes in all shapes and sizes. (I need to see Sing2 soon)- Trollhunters: Jim Lake isn't the school star but turns hero and another show hero Toby, and his Grandma, are in higher weight bodies and love interests.
Wreck It Ralf: for it's anti-Princess and the big guy himself
- Zootropolis: breaks stereotype about what a petite person (character) can do and who the baddie can be.

What kid films would you shout out for body positive messages (where the baddie is fat and/scarred and the star isn't a stereotype of attractive for example)?

If you haven't seen Encanto or any of the above movies yet but now intend to, enjoy!
Denise x

*feel free to ask me more!

I: bodyconfidencecards_db
T: @_BodyConfidence
F: Body Confidence Card Club

Thursday, 27 January 2022

The Workplace is no place for Body Shaming...

There is no place for body shaming.

January is always a frustrating time for me with the narrow talk of 'New Year, New You' (, ill-considered resolutions around exercise regimes (not bad in itself but...), and back to work chat about losing weight post-Christmas. I recognise there is a marketing benefit to this time for many including image consultants, and it's a relevant perspective to think of the fresh and new. I however tend to let the bandwagon pass me by, and this year that's been even more pointed for me as I've openly talked about needing to ease into 2022 proper. 

And yet, here we are because I just needed to put down on 'paper' my thoughts on some public, workplace body shaming that's just happened, and on the response to it. 

That it happens at all is bad. That it happened in Parliament is, somehow,  especially infuriating - they're meant to be a pinnacle, no?! That some people have responded with a 'so what' attitude and judgment reinforcing the negative (grrr) is sad. That it was passed off as acceptable banter because of the relationship between the belittler and the belitted is why I'm screaming... It is not ok, irrespective. 

None of it is ok. At all. (As I've referred to before:

But, sadly, it is deemed so. 
Let's face it - body shaming happens in the street, in restaurants, in media, in entertainment (one for another day) and in the office. It happens within family and friendship groups. It happens in brash, and subtle ways. With an openness that would not be tolerated for other groups.  And so it is too often passed off as banter, without a care for the person it is directed at. 

What's 'good' in this instance is that it was recognised and called out by many. 

Maybe the tide is turning. Maybe someone will think twice about doing it. Maybe it can (re)start the conversation. And so here I am, and with an offer. 

There are plenty of qualified people and expert organisations who are on this issue, but I've been talking about the issue of body image and weight stigma in the context of the workplace in my HR and diversity roles for a bit now so this is my zone. 

Workplaces should not be toxic. Our colleagues should not be subjected to harm. And make no mistake body shaming is damaging to the person and also to the workplace - it's culture, reputation and the bottom line.

My offer is therefore to help in this space... Are you someone who wants to know how to navigate or raise this issue at work - a manager or HR professional, coach or wellbeing lead? I can work with you to tackle this form of workplace bullying, (and yes, that's what it is) so please do get in touch. It doesn't have to be a battle. It isn't an issue that stands alone. So let's challenge this, as many are now doing with the aforementioned January narratives and, say goodbye to this shaming being acceptable anywhere. 

Like I said, this is a workplace issue - Parliament is a place of work.

Thanks for coming to my TedTalk!!!
Look after yourself and be kind to others.
Denise x

PS - responding by fat shaming the shamer (who will themselves be reflecting what society deems acceptable) is not the way to go, it is damaging and reinforcing. A persons performance should not be conflated with their body. 

I: bodyconfidencecards_db
T: @_BodyConfidence
F: Body Confidence Card Club

Monday, 22 March 2021

10 Reasons why Body Confidence is like Water!

 World Water Day

World water day is a reminder to us all to appreciate the gift of water - a precious natural commodity, just as we are! We should not take water for granted and it really is a first-world privilege for many of us. For others, it does not come so easy.

Today, reminded me to be thankful. Then I started thinking! And then linking... and here we are:

Does any of this resonate for you?

Keep it flowing,
Denise x

I: bodyconfidencecards_db
T: @_BodyConfidence
F: Body Confidence Card Club

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Hair today, Gone tomorrow?

No hair? No fear?

I've seen several posts, and had some conversations, about the first thing people will do after lockdown ends (again, this time, for a time?). For me, second only to seeing my family and friends is a trip to the hairdressers.

It may seem vain but my hair is not just about a look for me - it's a real marker of health and wellbeing. 

Some years ago after a particularly stressful time, my hair started falling out in clumps. And all these years later, I still have a notable, impacting bald patch. Stress is still a factor. I suspect a likely lack of vitamin D will play its part and for others, there will be other reasons too. It is an annoyance and a frustration because I can't just do what I want with my hair. It's bigger than my personal perspective too because society prizes hair... and lots of it. Again, it's often that hair is linked to health as well as to society's narrative of beauty. Don't believe me... just look at TV ads and magazines! 

H for Hidden in the Body Confidence Card deck was inspired by this thinking. Hairloss is something we try to hide, are encouraged to. Something I've tried to deny and ignore.

I'm fortunate that I've had some great stylists over the years, and these days wigs and weaves are not exactly news, so it's by no means all doom and drama for me. I'm grateful for the headwear I've had during the lockdown. And I'm bolder and more open about my bald patch now anyway. However, that trip to the hairdressers will be my moment of truth... will I have lost more hair through anxiety or will less toxicity (due to less travel) and more home cooking turn the tide? Who knows!

What I do know is that after this lockdown, much like the previous ones, many of us will be seeking a treat(ment) that will appear to be pure pampering but will be so much more. 

What, if anything, is it going to be for you? - A manicure, facial, massage, body scrub, replacing skincare, or treating yourself to a new lippy? Whatever your answer, why and what can you do now while you wait are really the questions! 

If there's an underlying reason for your treats, don't lose sight of what it is and do what you can not to let it slide too far. It's important we note our health markers and do what we can to maintain our bodies and minds. Eat happy. Keep moving. Sleep well. Home spa. Think positive!

However, just a little reminder - if what you're thinking of doing is to suit a narrow societal narrative, think twice. We're still in a pandemic, health is wealth and other people's opinions about your body are just that - their opinions.

See you on the other side, where it'll be nice to have less health-fear even if it is with less hair in my case!

Stay well,
Denise πŸ’žπŸ’žπŸ’ž

I: bodyconfidencecards_db
T: @_BodyConfidence
F: Body Confidence Card Club