I attended a workshop on Sunday called Body Beloved by Sarah Rose-Bright*, a fantastic Sex Coach and sex educator. It was for people who identify as women, about being present in and loving and accepting our bodies (yes, very ambitious!). I last attended this workshop two years ago and it was called BodyLove then. I repeated the workshop because I feel the overwhelming negative power that ‘BodyHate’ has had in my own life. It affects everything.
I am not ‘us and them’ about these things, just because I did a course and now help others with bodies and sex. I own that I have had long standing issues around my body image and a lot of painful stuff is attached to it. My journey of healing this aspect of my own history and flourishing into my full potential has been interrupted (mainly by me ignoring or refusing to do the necessary feeling. It’s easier to start the next detox plan or devise an exercise routine).
The first 15 minutes of the workshop put a stop to that, as we shared in a circle the reasons we were there. It was incredibly powerful hearing the experiences and emotions of the women in the group; it stirred such strong grief and emotion that I feel I have been ignoring. It came out in tears when it was my turn to speak. I have been aware that connecting to my own vulnerability will enable me to hold space for others to allow them to release and feel their distress. I feel more ready to be there for the next client or workshop member who needs to do this very important work.
The scope of the day was wide; we considered the context of our body image issues (family, media, diet, fitness, sex and food industries) and touched on why women feel their labia need surgical removal and why breathing is important. We practiced being present in our bodies, doing some movement (shaking and Chi Gong arm-swinging) and learning how we can tune in and listen more to our bodies wisdom about what is right for us. Sarah emphasised how it takes dedication to a regular practice of body love and acceptance; it doesn’t happen overnight.
I was reminded of the power of ritual witnessing, as we worked in groups to stand in front of our peers and share first everything we don’t like about ourselves, then everything we like, and then to hear our witnesses tell us what THEY see. We simply had to breathe and receive these compliments. This can translate into a daily practice of being a friend to our bodies and saying loving and kind things, even if it’s being able to say ‘I appreciate that I have a body’, or ‘I like my fingernails.’
Thoughts whirled around in my head about how so many of us need to do this work. I was at a workshop last Summer at Trans Bare All (TBA)** summer retreat that addressed the same issues for trans men, trans masculine and non-binary folk. We all need safe, relevant spaces where we can address these issues because they can have an awful impact on our mental health, confidence, our ability to be present in our bodies and our sexual and sensual lives. Shame and fear that comes from being LGBTQ in a hostile environment can compound body image and self-esteem issues. Trans people are affected by the media’s incessant commentary about what an ‘acceptable’ man or woman, or trans man or woman looks like, on top of the incongruence around body type, parts and gender identity experienced by many.
I am having a think about how I can support and inspire women, trans people and the LGBTQ community to be more lovingly embodied and comfortable in our own skin. Watch this space.
If you have some work to do on your body image, I am available for one to one sessions. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
*Sarah offers a wonderful range of services in the Manchester area www.sarahrosebright.co.uk
** Highly recommended organisation that runs amazing retreats about trans health and wellbeing (for trans masculine folk) see http://transbareall.co.uk
Thanks for reading,