Sunday, 28 June 2020

Nude shoes and Images...

Urm, How do I start this one?


Well, the title came pretty easily but the intro for this post didn't. In fact, writing this post in a succinct/safe/sensitive/sensible way isn't coming easily. But here we go...


Before I begin - a question:

Q: When you read "nude shoes" in the title, what first came to mind?
If you've no immediate answer or you're worried it's a trick question - do an internet search on "nude shoes" and hold that thought for a paragraph.

You see this post is about a couple of thoughts on blackness. Two things, highlighting the cost of it - Financially. Visibly. Emotionally. 

It is likely to come across as a bit small in the grand scheme of things. But, being honest, I've been reflecting on some small points in between a lot of reading, researching, listening and conversing on the big points. 
What I've come to is that whilst some of my thoughts have been on smaller things, they are an illustration of the frustration. The small things are part of the big thing.  


Nude shoes...


You see, your answer to the question about nude shoes immediately indicates (most likely) whether your ethnicity is black or white. (I am not going to say race here, just go with it).

If you are white, you maybe thought of Duchess Catherine, maybe it wasn't much of a thought at all. And if you searched I'll bet you saw a lot of pink coloured shoes. Not too bad for you, right.
If however you are black, you are more likely to have recognised that the search would be a little harder. And a little more costly. 
It's a simple point but it says a lot - nude shoes if you are black are often found in the 'tan' category. They are less likely to come up top of a search. They are more expensive. And it's the same with tights, hairstyles, (albeit decreasingly) make-up and underwear. Just a simple search for relative basics highlights issues of accessibility, cost, language, representation and more. Remember the debates on ballet shoes and even plasters!
Even allowing for demographics, some of this just doesn't stack up (especially geographically).
*The result: the situation feels disadvantageous and unfair*


...And images


So it was also with the images for the Body Confidence Cards.


I set out purposefully to have cards that were diverse. I knew I wanted to have different ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, weight representation, sexual orientations and even hair colours covered so set out to find an array of images that brought balance and fit to the overall message of the deck. 


I think I did ok. But, on reflection the cards are safer than they could have been, and not every one is visibly represented. The reasons I think, partially with hindsight, are these:

1. I wanted the focus on the message, not the blackness of the message bearer (me) 
2. I wanted to make a statement about diversity but not scream and stage it. And this is the point that challenges me and has me asking if I could have done more.
3. At the time I knew and considered this: That in part, crudely put, there was a cost element to making the pack more diverse. I couldn't as easily access or afford images of plus-size and black people or those with a visible disability or disfigurement for example. Such images are harder to get on free sites. They are limited. Like brown 'nude' shoes, those images exist but the choices are less and to get them costs more.
*The result: Some people are seen less, and feel less seen*

The pictures, therefore, may be a little safe but many allow for interpretation and I am pleased that the words allow for a discussion to go where you want/need it to go. And, all is not lost I will be adding some more diversity related content to the 'Teachers Guide' too, so these reflections have been important. That will be my next contribution to the conversation. And I am going to be bolder in future image choices as much as possible.



💭  What will your next step be?


Back to the point!


So, the point of this blog is to, in a small way, highlight that some of small things tell us a lot about the bigger issue. If you've never had to look hard for nude shoes or images that positively and broadly represent you, I hope this has been a simple but useful illustration. And if you get what I mean because this has been a challenge for you, I just want you to know that I see you and feel you and will do better for us. Because you matter, we matter, I matter. 


Fairness and representation matters. Removing barriers and easing access matters. Black lives, and black bodies matter. (And read up on why this doesn't dismiss all, but it's not all for now)


Taking just the example of nude shoes and images, I ask... Financially - don't penalise. Visibly - see, show diversity. Emotionally - feel (for) me, support me. 






I see you!
Denise 💞💞💞










Sunday, 10 May 2020

More than a month of Meme's...

...And what I gave energy too instead


I hesitated to post this blog, but it's got to go.

In a crisis, humour well used can be an incredible plus and Lord knows I've needed to laugh in the last month plus (like most of us).

Lots of the things I've laughed at have been about parental sanity on the home-school front and Zoom fails in a work capacity. But what I haven't found relief in, has been all the weight gain memes... 


...I know, it's just banter right? Wrong. Banter is too close to bullying in my book - the line between them, wafer thin.

There are several issues with weight gain memes including - they're often upsetting to those who are already larger than society deems acceptable, it's triggering to those who have/have had disordered eating, and that it suggests that weight gain is somehow worse or funnier than things like my hair falling out and my skin getting dry and sore.

I know that for some the fear of weight gain is a big, real, legitimate issue and that's the point - it's a genuine concern to some and therefore shouldn't be such an easy, thoughtless share for a laugh for others.




I am mindful that I have the privilege of being in a smaller body, so my concern might be deemed odd. However putting myself in someone else's shoes - 1. it's about being sensitive and 2. it's about trying to be an ally.

I am also aware that some people have used the memes to be self-deprecating, perhaps to get the joke in before someone else does. That makes me sad. Times are tough enough without feeling the need to further push or punish ourselves.

💞💞💞

So, rather than comment on every meme post  - to save my energy and yet do something - I decided to put forward positive things over fighting over negative things. I even pushed past personal discomfort and self-doubt posted a few videos*

The subjects I covered included nourishment, movement and more to post encouraging messages and to gently push back on some of the narratives I was seeing.

Blog here: https://damsonbelle.blogspot.com/2020/03/seven-days-in-isolation-with-bcc.html

                                                                               💞💞💞

Nothing I did will change the world but I do hope that I made a few people reflect on what they'd been posting and more importantly helped a few people feel a little less anxious about putting on weight. And I hope this blog has that affect too. 

As one of my video's points to* - its about making a genuine, personal choice though: if you're sure that you do want to do the uber-fitness thing for example, go ahead; but, if not consider this... if we can't chill a little, and eat the damn cake if we want to, when in a pandemic lockdown no less when can/will we?



Let's get through this #TogetherApart.

Best wishes
Denise 💞💞💞




To find out more, get in touch via the social media channels etc below or go to * https://www.facebook.com/groups/2653606204690681/

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Seven Days in Isolation with the BCC...

...And does it really matter?


Given such challenging times, I asked myself if the body confidence agenda and cards had a place in the conversation.

When I accepted the answer was yes, I set off on seven days of sharing something to keep people positive in between all the bad news and instead of all the messages that were making me feel like I had to do a five mile run every day and develop abs in a week!

Each day the 'challenge' set was based on the Body Confidence Cards. More fundamentally they were about taking care of our mental health and emotional wellbeing, and not all focussed how we look or feel about our bodies as such.

The topics were:
  • Eating Happy
  • Dressing Up
  • Thinking about Messaging
  • Moving our Bodies for joy
  • Getting Creative
  • Self-care
  • Reflecting on and Thanking our Bodies



Being stuck, aka safe, at home in isolation will have a different impact on everyone and that's ok. For some it will mean time to do good things, but for others it may be a time of negative rumination. The posts suggested only good things, so to answer the question 'does it really matter?' - Yes. Yes it does because at this point in time, we all need to fix our eyes on the light even in the darkness.

It started as an offer to others, but in reality it turned out to be an act of self-care as I got alot from positive thinking and sharing something each day. I've kinda missed it today, but it's been nice to reflect and I'll no doubt have to think of something else over lockdown. Watch this space!

To find out more, get in touch via the social media channels etc below or go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/2653606204690681/


Let's get through this #TogetherApart.
Best wishes
Denise x





Sunday, 9 February 2020

Body Confidence and the Storm

How my fence is like Body Confidence...


...And Ciara, the nemesis!


Storm Ciara has well and truly arrived and she's taken my fence down on her travels. So, what's this got to do with body confidence you might ask...
...Well, I see body confidence as being on a spectrum (including acceptance through to love) and it's a journey we're all on, if not consciously, all the time.
Even if your body confidence is like a strong, sturdy fence, there may be times when storms come along and make you wobble or even fall over completely. 
The 'storm(s)' might be internal, hormonal, age or circumstances related, emotionally, or physically triggered. Or the trigger can be external - a negative comment, diet ad, social media image or something else.
The thing is to know that the fence should and can be patched up, rebuilt. Just as you should allow your body confidence to return, regrow and build when storm passes.
You may have the skills, experience and resilience to do this yourself or you may need an expert/buddy, but you can, will and must find what it takes to make things safe for yourself again. 
I created the body confidence cards for these times, but also more generally as the more anchored we are in general the less likely light winds will knock us off course. 
Being wobbly doesn't make us weak, but standing up post-wobble does make us stronger. Constantly building our positive body narrative might even help us weather the big hitters.
Hope Ciara doesn't do too much damage. And I hope any down days don't last too long.

Here's to standing firm and/then getting back up!
Denise x




https://www.facebook.com/groups/2653606204690681/?ref=bookmarks

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Reflections from Anti Diet Riot Fest

A Sunday well spent!


This time last week I was at the first ever Anti Diet Riot Fest organised by Becky Young of Anti Diet Riot Club (found on Twitter and Insta)

Being a Sunday it was touch and go if I'd get to go, but I'm really glad I made it. It's challenge to the New Year, New You mantra was right up my street!

http://damsonbelle.blogspot.com/2014/12/say-no-to-new-year-new-you.html
https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/anti-diet-riot-club-interview-a4274416.html

It was, as expected, very diverse and that was refreshing given many of the people in the space and on the platform are usually expected to (and often do) make themselves somewhat invisible or at least quiet in the crowd. It's not right - That's what the movement is trying to challenge and change.

It was exciting to know that I'd be surrounded by like-minded people, see people I'd already connected with and possibly make new contacts in the body confidence space.

And I wasn't disappointed.

- What I did:

My time started with an energising dance session by the School of Strut. And OMG I seriously bleeping enjoyed it. From beginning to striking a pose at the end my focus was on keeping up, appreciating what our bodies can do and having fun... not on what I, or anyone else, looked like doing it.

I also went to some brilliant talks. The topics I listened in on were on the Snap back, Gender & Masculinity, and Race. Tough topics with some overarching themes around embracing you, intersectionality, parenting, being an ally, challenging others, the impact of the media and much more.

I also got to be creative and make a protest banner even though I was a bit, make that a lot, weak on the protesting bit!

As well as lots to do there were some good displays such as Graeme Draws art and stands such as the one showcasing a range of body confident books (a few of which I'll be purchasing when the 76th of January finally arrives!). Along with a few books, I'm also already planning my next body confidence time outs.




Whilst I sadly couldn't stay for the whole day, what I got in the time I had was like rocket fuel as the place was bright, the conversations bold and atmosphere buzzing!
Roll on 2021 I say (or a summer event maybe!)

- Next!

In the meantime if anyone wants to join me at a School of Strut dance class (you really, really should!), HOT Helen of Troy or Fempowerment, holler... but note I am not looking for company as a safety net as I'll be in a safe place with my people!

Here's to a positive year ahead,
Denise x



https://www.facebook.com/groups/2653606204690681/?ref=bookmarks