Strong Women Squad Goes To: The Bodykind Festival
On Saturday we went to the Bodykind Festival in Totnes, Devon, heralded as ‘first ever festival of body acceptance’. The event ran all weekend, but we attended Saturday’s core event, a day of talks and performance by some amazing people. There were heartbreaking stories of miscarriage and bullying, uplifting stories of loving yourself and overcoming obstacles, stand-up comedy, dance, photography, all held in a church. There was a lot of vagina talk for inside a church. And one naked vagina.
I want to tell you about the three women speakers that stood out for me.
Harnaam has polycystic ovaries (PCOS), a condition that affects one in five women in the UK. It means her hormones are imbalanced, and for her, among other things, it means she grows facial hair. Her childhood and teenage years were spent being bullied to the point of being severely suicidal, and doing everything to remove and hide her facial hair so she could be accepted by other people for how she looked, until one day she thought – everything I’m doing is for other people. What about me? I’m being bullied anyway, so I might as well just be myself.
Harnaam now refers to herself as ‘The Bearded Dame’ and is an anti-bully and body confidence activist, as well as a life coach and model. Life is still hard, she still faces prejudice in the workplace, online, in the streets, but she is powerful and she refuses to back down anymore, and be anything other than her beautiful self.
One thing that has helped her in her low moments has been looking in the mirror and repeating affirmations, which she had us all do in the audience. Check out the video below, courtesy of the Bodykind Festival’s Instagram, to see this in action, and join in yourself!
Megan Jayne Crabbe (aka @bodyposipanda)
Megan started noticing her weight and dieting at five years old. Her teenage years were spent yo-yoing between anorexia (to the point of being hospitalized) and binge-eating. Then when she entered her twenties, after another grueling two-hour morning workout, she was trawling Instagram for ‘fitspo’ (aka ‘fitspiration’ or ‘thinspiration’) images to keep her on track. She stumbled upon Melissa Gibson, a big and beautiful Instagram star rocking a red bikini and suddenly Megan’s beliefs were shattered: it was okay to like your body just how it is.
Megan now has helped advance the body positivity movement through joyous imagery on her colourful Instagram feed. ‘Reverse’ before and afters – pictures of her thin and sucking in her stomach next to pictures of her happy and relaxed, belly rolls out, huge smile on her face and unicorn-pastel hair galore combine with her #donthatetheshake videos where she dances her ass off in bikinis giving us all life. She now works as a body positive activist and an author.
Check out her artwork (above) and Instagram (below) to see what we mean…
TODAY I GREW RAINBOW WINGS AND FLEW AROUND THE WORLD DESTROYING DIET CULTURE AND SPRINKLING SELF LOVE ON EVERYONE 🌈🌈🌈 Okay I didn't but I DID have an amazing day at @bodykindfestival 💜 today I did a talk all about body positivity and how to let go of the fear of fat, and yesterday I got to go into the local school and speak with hundreds of kids about body image. So I pretty much FEEL like I have rainbow wings (swipe to see how majestic they are!) Thank you so much to @dinah.gibbons and everyone else at @bodykindfestival for making this weekend happen, I am so grateful and my heart is so full. 💜💙💚🌈🌞 P.s. shoutout to my bae @theunedit for the 📷 @fannysparkler for being the brains behind the wings and @schoolofstrut for holding one up and hiding behind it so sneakily 😉🌸
Miss Glory Pearl
Miss Glory Pearl burst from the back of the church and sashayed up the aisle towards the stage, music pumping, completely starkers other than a vintage hat and high heels. She’d slayed us all within two minutes (my friend gasped and whispered, ‘look at her gorgeous skin!’) Glory was a burlesque dancer for years, but says she was beginning to tire of taking her clothes on and off all the time, so decided to keep them off and become a naked stand-up comic.
I for one was having an admiring ogle as she entertained us all, and the best bit had to be when she brought out a knitted, hairy, hand puppet vulva!
This pretty much sums up my life. More images from the glorious @lucie.kout and a little montage that makes me happy. Tits are the best. (•)(•) 👍🖕✊️💕💗💕#freethenipple #nakedstandup #ladycomedian #funnywomen #lifeonstage #lovemelovemytits #bodypositive #vintagehat #thumbsup #thebird #burlesque #burlesquelife #comedy
Below are some more pictures of the day, and the fantastic speakers at work. Plus a rather blurry photo of the wonderful Strong Women I attended with, my friends Alison, Sarah and Emma (another friend, Sarah-Jayne, showed up soon after).