Our successful wellbeing series is back; exploring the complex relationship we have with our bodies and unpacking some of the common self-image struggles that many of us face as part of the Queer Community.
As queer people, the relationship with our bodies is complicated. It's no surprise that the LGBTQ+ community as a whole is disproportionately affected by poor self-image, eating disorders and body dysmorphia. In an Attitude magazine survey, only 1% of respondents said they were “very happy” with their body. Over 50%, however, said they were unhappy with it.
Despite the incredible diversity contained within the LGBTQ+ community, we are still often presented with concepts of the 'ideal' gay man, trans woman, non-binary person. Striving for those ideals naturally puts a lot of pressure on our mental health; Gay and bisexual men are almost three times as likely to develop disordered eating habits as heterosexual men, and it’s well-known that those in the LGBTQ+ community already face more risk of mental health challenges. Those in the transgender and nonbinary communities often not only have to deal with body issues, but may have gender dysphoria added into the mix. Our bodies can get caught up in this tug of war of what society expects us to look like, and what we want to look like.
Even outside of our queer identities, we are often taught to critique how we look and strive for improvement - even if that “better” isn’t realistic, possible or necessary. In the age of social media, we see perfect lives and beautiful bodies every day, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others.
This is just a few ways in which we are often led to believe that our bodies are flawed or imperfect. And whilst self-care and body-positive initiatives are certainly turning the tide, the journey to self-love is often difficult. As we found out in a recent panel discussion we hosted with four queer change-makers.
So what can we do, as individuals, to improve our relationships with the person in the mirror? How do we begin to unpack the ideas of body image, self worth and toxic gendered expectations that weigh down our self image?
In our upcoming free workshop 'Me, my body and I', taking place on Saturday 31st July, our team of LGBTQ+ wellbeing professionals will give participants some tools and techniques for challenging those toxic ideals and negative thoughts as they come up. All have experienced some of these issues first hand, and are keen to share how they improved their own mind-body relationships. At We Create Space, we believe that building a more compassionate relationship with your body is the first step towards acceptance and ultimately self-love.
Me, My Body and I : Meet the team!
Facilitator – Tash Thomas (she/her)
Tash is a dancer and performer as well as being Diversity and Inclusion speaker and advocate, and so she’s well versed in listening to your body and using it as a tool for expression. She is also co-founder of ‘Breaking the Distance’, a unique LGBTQIA+ travel and relationship blog, (alongside her fiancé, Marthe). Breaking the Distance aims to educate and promote positive LGBTQIA+ visibility, whilst also providing a safe space for people to be their authentic selves.
Co-Facilitator – Zacha Belok (he/him)
Zacha is a Somatic Movement Therapist and Tamalpa Life/Art Process® Practitioner. Zacha compiles ten years of somatic research in his teachings to inquire more into where our words do not touch. He facilitates classes and holds one-to-one coaching sessions online that focus on developing body-based self-care routines for LGBTQ+ people.
Guest Speaker – Eva Echo (she/her)
Eva is a trans woman based in Birmingham. She is a writer, activist and currently a brand ambassador for the London Transgender clinic, a spokesperson for Gendered Intelligence, and founder of the #PassItOn campaign that encourages conversation around trans and non-binary people’s image standards.
Experience Coordinator – Maylis Djikalou (she/her)
Maylis has 10 years’ experience working at the intersection of the fashion and mental health industries, curating international events and strategic partnerships to promote wellbeing in the workplace as competitive advantage.
Host and Founder of Create Space – Michael Stephens (he/him)
After a series of life changing events, Michael diverted from his career path as a Creative Director, becoming an LGBTQ+ wellbeing advocate for UK charity, MQ Mental Health. He now runs WE CREATE SPACE, promoting the importance and value of self-care, specifically within the creative and LGBTQ+ Communities. Michael talks about his own struggles with an eating disorder here.