As some of you may know, I’ve been going through a bit of a tough time recently. I’ve realized that even if taking time to figure out who you are sounds like a no-brainer, it’s easier said than done. My anxiety has been getting the best of me lately. Being away from my friends, my home campus and my loved ones has also made the situation that much more difficult.
So, it’s safe to say that Girls On Film’s “Love Thy Body” event could not have come at a more-needed time.
Held at Candid Arts Trust in Islington, “Love Thy Body” provided a space to indulge in a little self-care through art, activities and goodies to help nourish your body.
Seeing self-care in action
Tish from lifestyle brand Relevant Waffle launched her #MIYSELFCAREKIT at “Love Thy Body.” Each month, Relevant Waffle will provide customers ingredients to make face and body products (such as scrubs) to pamper themselves.
At the next table, Saschan Fearon-Josephs invited event-goers to sculpt reproductive organs using Play-Doh. The “Love Thy Body” event was held in partnership with The Womb Room, which works to educate young women across England on reproductive health.
Transforming it from a blog to a charity, Fearon-Josephs started The Womb Room after being diagnosed with an ovarian cyst in 2011. Fearon-Josephs created the platform to give girls and women the resources and support she wished she had when she was starting her medical journey.`
Georgia Dodsworth, who runs World of Self-Care, had a station where you could create a self-care jar. After struggling with depression from a young age, Dodsworth found the arts to be a veritable source of happiness. That’s when her self-care journey began. Dodsworth’s goal is to take her workshops to the next level and organize a wellness festival.
There was also a tea-making station, complete with kettle, matcha bowl and chasen to stir the tea with with.
Screening the films
There were six works shown at “Love Thy Body.” All centered around beauty, and the consequences of women both living and not living up to the heterosexual male-constructed, Eurocentric standards.
“Heresy of Champna,” directed by Rowan Wigley, spoofs shampoo commercials. The film calls out the beauty industry’s conditioning and washing (brainwashing, that is) of consumers when it comes to the myth of good hair.
Elena Parasco’s “Locker Room Talk” flips that now infamous phrase on its head. In Parasco’s world, the bants taking place in the locker room are about the patriarchy. Athletic sisterhood and having fun are the focus, not objectifying and degrading others.
The “walk of shame” Maisie Buck discusses in her spoken word video isn’t the bleary-eyed trek from your hook-up’s bed. This one starts sooner in life and sometimes happens to us non-cisgender-men everyday.
Admittedly, out of all the works, this one was hardest to watch. It is so artistically constructed, but the beauty of it didn’t make it feel any less visceral. It felt all too relatable.
Lori Malépart-Traversy traces the history of the only organ made for pleasure in “Le Clitoris.” It’s not every day one can say this, but this film had the most adorable animated clitoris I have ever seen.
The film was hilarious, but very matter-of-fact in outlining society’s missteps when it has come to women’s sexual health.
Roslyn Mays, known on stage as Roz The Diva, is the plus-size pole-dancer at the heart of Merete Mueller’s “Dangerous Curves.” The feature explores Mays fearlessness, but shows realistic moments where Mays chooses confidence in the face of insecurity.
Mays stands out as a figure to reaffirm for women that you can be sexy and fearless at any size, conventional rules of beauty be damned.
Very much related to the activities before the screening, “Magic” shows us the care rituals of black femmes. This documentary was directed by Laura Kirwan-Ashman and put together in part by Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah, a women-led collective. (It’s also the name of their cheeky web series, of which you can watch the first episode and the rest here.
The film struck a chord with me because it doesn’t just offer self-care as a remedy for the hardships of life. It explains self-care as a necessity to cope with the traumas of being in a black, feminine-aligned body.
And yet, while it dealt with such a heavy concept, it was such a dream to watch. It felt like the milky, flowery, fruity bath Munroe Bergdorf draws at the beginning of the film.
Taking it all in
At the panel, the creatives present talked about the importance of honesty when it comes to mental health, representation for marginalized groups and the kind of images and messages they wished they had seen in the media growing up.
This resonated with me. This longing for representation and a better world for girls like I once was not only informs my work, but fuels me. I don’t want any girl (period, but any brown girl, any black girl, any pansexual or bisexual girl) to feel the way I felt growing up.
I think saying I want to be a role model would give me massive boots to fill (Malala Yousafzai is a role model. J.K. Rowling is a role model. Beyonce and Nicki Minaj and Rihanna are role models. I’m not saying I’ll never get there, but I am definitely still a work in progress!). However, I do want to succeed to show individuals like me that yes, they can reach their full potential. Even in a world that wasn’t built for them.
All in all, attending “Love Thy Body” was moving and inspiring. I know the latter word gets thrown around a lot, but the event lit a spark in me. I felt physically energized seeing all these people who looked like me doing their thing and doing it well and clearly making a difference in people’s lives.
I was reminded that if I work hard and play hard and love hard and take care of myself and revel in my own, innate magic, everything is bound to work out. And I really needed that reminder right now.