This week, Orri’s Somatic Therapist, Pippa, held a London workshop, in collaboration with Be Well Collective. The event explored body image and how to unlock our authentic selves. It was a heartwarming and tender evening, filled with brave stories, honest conversation and tasty food.
Body image. A timely and, often stigmatised, topic considering the pervasiveness of diet culture and eating disorders. This is a recurring theme that many of our clients bring to Orri, as it can be hard to understand and engage with our bodies when an eating disorder fights so well to disconnect us from experiencing and learning about them, about us. Sometimes, the body can be a hard place to call home.
So, how does our relationship with our bodies impact our behaviours? How can we even begin to unlock our ‘authentic selves’ when we have been ‘locked’ away for so long? These were the questions that were explored in Pippa’s workshop.
Orri and Be Well Collective
Orri and Be Well Collective have had a long-standing relationship over the years. There is synergy in both organisations’ hope to bring communities of like-minded people together to embody self-compassion and honesty in mental wellbeing. We recognise that there is power in community and we uphold the importance of sharing our learnings and witnessing individuals’ experiences to aid in their journey of self-rediscovery. Aligning with Be Well Collective’s connection in the fashion industry, the community face first-hand the pressures body and image can bring; and, aligning with Orri’s specialist eating disorder treatment in recovery, we too experience our clients’ pressures of body image.
This is why we felt it was important that this in-demand workshop took place. Held in an intimate setting, with a two-course menu at Pho restaurant, 25 attendees gathered from the fashion and clinical worlds to share the healing space together.
‘We exist in a society that places great emphasis on our external appearance. It is sadly not surprising to learn that many people suffer with chronic low self-esteem and mental health challenges that are informed by negative body image.
It is critical to understand how body image can influence our day-to-day thoughts and behaviour and have a significant impact on the way we relate to ourselves and others.
The theme of body image is personal, challenging and stigmatised.’
Be Well Collective
What the workshop covered
Pippa held the space and introduced the themes of the evening, inviting individuals to share their experiences and partake in practical activities of self-reflection.
She gently delved into what body image is, being the mental representation we create of ourselves that may not bear any relation to how others actually see us. It can be a lifelong exploration, as our relationships with our bodies are continuously changing. The group shared words, such as diet culture; social media; pressure; expectation and standards, as recognition of what can feed negative or distorted body image.
‘Body image is subject to all kinds of distortion from early experiences, attitudes of our parents, integral elements like our emotions and moods, and much more. Nevertheless, your mental image of you strongly influences behaviour.’
Body image is determined by 4 key factors:
- How we see
- How we feel
- How we think
- Our behaviour in response to the above
Pippa invited the group to consider these 5 elements to build on body image:
- Carry out a temperature check – how am I *really*?
- Notice inner verification: Champion the inner cheerleader and celebrate the wins, not matter how small
- Prioritise pleasure: tune in to what really feels good
- Carry out conscious self-soothing: bring awareness to inner thoughts and choose to be kind to yourself
- Channel childlike wonder: How would a child see you?
“It’s so important that we return to in-person events because the segregation from human contact can spiral into mental health problems and body image concerts. It was fantastic to see the beneficial impact that this workshop had on our community. Huge thank you to Pippa and Orri for bringing their guidance and expertise to The Be Well Collective.”
Sarah Ann Macklin
‘1 in 10 women have self-harmed because of body image. 1 in 4 men have felt depressed because of concerns about their body image.
Mental Health Foundation
When we think about our bodies, the way we feel towards them is often a reflection of the amount of love, worth and respect we feel towards ourselves in general. From day one, we absorb information that teaches us about the world as well as our place within it. We internalise messages about ourselves that go on to form a narrative in our lives.
As Pippa explored, as individuals, we come into the world as our authentic selves. The external messages and ideals we pick up along the way of life informs our “I” perspective. She shared this can feel like a backpack that we begin to pack when we are little. As we age and reach our adolescence, the backpack can begin to feel heavier and heavier the more we carry outer messages of how we ‘should’ our ‘ought’ to be. The weight can begin to feel unbearable as we reach adulthood.
If you feel this resonates with you, we invite you to take the backpack off and air it out a little. What have you been carrying in there? Can you unpack anything to help make it lighter to carry?
As Professor Paul Gilbert said: “We start with the reality that is true for all of us, which is that we all just ‘find ourselves here’.” You have the power to take back your narrative. Go gently.
Whilst reading this post, if you have found anything uncomfortable arise, know that you can fill out an enquiry form on the right of this page for more information on how we may be able to support you.