Body image problems affect lots of different people. It’s about how we see ourselves and perceive our bodies, but this is influenced by wider issues such as societal views, diet culture and inequalities. Body image isn’t something “silly” experienced only by teenage girls, nor is it something we can just “get over”. It’s not about vanity or being shallow. I could share a bunch of statistics about how many people don’t like their bodies but I think we all know… it’s a lot.
I struggled my whole life with body image problems, mine mostly centering on weight but I’m aware that other people have body image issues that have nothing to do with weight or size. My work with individuals and in workshops however does tend to sway towards weight because it is such a big factor for so many people. Weight stigma is so prevalent in our society so it affects thin people too. Living in a larger body brings a lot of challenges but hating our bodies, being unkind to ourselves, and trying to change the way we look isn’t the solution (as much as it may really seem like it is!)
Part of my own continued body image journey is being able to share my professional and lived experience with people, helping others understand body image on a deeper level and challenge perceptions of their bodies. I personally found that learning about wider societal expectations and inequalities, as well as past experiences and trauma, can help build an understanding as to why we struggle with body image, and this can help us be more compassionate to ourselves.
I sometimes find that "body positivity" can be too fluffy, as much as it can be helpful for a lot of people. It just seemed unrealistic for me to pose in a bikini when I couldn't even wear a swimming costume without a big baggy t-shirt over the top for many years. "Body positivity" is unfortunately capitalised on by companies who have noticed its popularity, and by influencers and thin attractive people online who want to promote themselves. This takes it away from the very people who need the moment the most, e.g. fat, black, queer, disabled people and others who have faced discrimination and oppression.
My body image approach involves taking a "big picture" view, understanding the societal and cultural issues surrounding how we see our bodies, including class, gender, disability, race, and more. Accepting our bodies can feel like a radical act in our society where capitalism needs us to be ashamed of our bodies in order to make money. So there can be such a lot to unpack when thinking about body image, which is why I offer workshops as well as one-to-one sessions. These can help you understand body image in more depth and help you move towards accepting your body.
My next body image workshop is on Tuesday 6th September 2022 and is focused on “body acceptance” with a mix of educational content and exploration, along with guided meditations offered by meditation and reiki teacher Lesley Bailey (bios below).
The online workshop is for anyone struggling with body image, or those wanting to support someone else, for professionals, or for anyone wanting to learn more about body image.
It will include:
◦ Why exploring body image is important
◦ Causes of body image problems and the impact
◦ Lived experiences
◦ Weight stigma and dieting
◦ How we can help improve our relationship with our bodies
◦ How to support others with body image problems
◦ Practical tips and recommendations
Find out more and book here.
About the hosts
About Mel Ciavucco:
I have been working for eating disorder charities for over 5 years and have a passion for understanding body image, eating distress and weight stigma. My own lived experience of struggling with body image, food and weight stigma plays a big part in my work as a trainer, I feel it goes hand-in-hand with my professional experience to bring enriching and inspiring workshops. I am a counsellor in training, due to qualify in 2023, and I also work on a Domestic Violence Perpetrator Program as a group facilitator. I run workshops on body image through First Steps ED, plus I have created comprehensive body image resources for them. I currently run creative writing workshops for people affected by homelessness too.
About Lesley Bailey:
Lesley is a trained bereavement support worker, a senior administrator and a fundraiser for a local bereavement charity, as well as a Tropic Skincare Ambassador/Leader and a Reiki Master Teacher (Holistic Health Connection).
"I began learning Reiki for myself back in 1998 until becoming a teacher and now meditation, grounding and being centred are an integral part of my own life and what I share with others. I am happy to have shared online meditation sessions throughout the pandemic but Reiki training, treatments and workshops are now available in person again. My love of natural skincare fits in beautifully with my ‘holistic head’ and led me to be an Independent Ambassador with Tropic Skincare nearly 9 years ago. It gives me the chance to find healthy and planet protective solutions for myself, for those struggling with skincare issues or for people who just want to make more mindful choices. I train and support my lovely team of Ambassadors to do the same.
My work with Stafford & District Bereavement & Loss Support Service since 2014 is both humbling and inspiring. Experiencing losses myself, I understand the importance of having a safe, confidential and caring approach to the support needed at these difficult times. The fundraising aspect of my job is both a passion and a need in order to maintain this free service for our local people."
Find Lesley on Facebook: www.facebook.com/lesley.bailey.58 with links to her Holistic Health Connection and Tropic Skincare pages.
To find out more about other workshops click here.