Last month, I travelled from London to South Devon to a tiny village called Totnes, for the Bodykind Festival, the world’s first festival that celebrates and promotes bodily acceptance.
Now in its third year, the Bodykind Festival is the brainchild of Dinah Gibbons, an inspiring change maker and former midwife keen to bring women (and men!) together from all parts of the country to celebrate beautiful bodies irrespective of disabilities, curves or skin conditions. Dinah, who describes the core values of the 2 day event as promoting inclusivity, celebrating diversity, illuminating and challenging non acceptance and meeting fear and shame with sensitivity and kindness, first hosted the festival in 2017 when she invited guests such as Megan Crabbe (a.k.a Bodyposipanda) and Harnaam Kaur (the bearded lady) to speak about their journeys in relation to bodily self love.
This year was my first time at the festival. Spread over two days with the core event taking place on Saturday 4thMay, the informative programme was a combination of workshops (puppetry workshop), inspirational talks (Bodiposipanda, Grace Victory), panel discussions (including myself and Sylvia Mac from Love Disfigure), performances and inspirational talks from those who had faced challenges in a society where high emphasis is placed on looking a certain way. The conversations were open and honest with enthusiastic involvement from the audience, who were keen to ask questions and share their own insights into those things they had personally experienced. Whilst the conference was attended mostly by women, it was great to see men in the audience, which is something Dinah is keen to promote moving foward, because after all self care and acceptance affects us all, even though women continue to be the main focus in terms of loving out bodies.
In the afternoon, I sat on a panel alongside @bopo.boy, @fatandfab88 and @janu_hairy for a session entitled Radical Self Compassion. Chaired by Molly Forbes who recently hosted Channel 4’s, Naked Beach, the 30-minute session focused on how can we practice being kinder to our body’. Each panel speaker had something different to share from the realisation that self-appreciation doesn’t magically happen overnight; to blocking out negative energy and the frequent self sabotaging conversations we sometimes have with ourselves about why our bodies just aren’t good enough. A stream of suggestions and thoughts were shared when asked how we practised self-compassion and with the positive response from the audience, it really encouraged us to open up and share our personal stories that we felt would inspire those around us.
The day came to a close at around 4:30pm afterwhich I raced off to catch my train back to London as the next day I was flying to Ibiza with a suitcase bulging with new bikinis. That’s me practising self-care right there! The day had an incredible level of energy right from the start and I left feeling content and inspired. Events like these are much needed, as aside from the guests who shared stories with such authenticity, it’s a great way to meet amazing women who are there to support each other. Already I’m looking forward to hearing about next years plans. Watch this space….