Author: Sam Johnson, Review of Workshop on body image hosted by Claudine of Seascape Blue and Christine Chessman of Hello Fitness

Think, Eat, Move is Brighton’s fantastic new food freedom and body confidence workshop, run by brilliant women Claudine and Christine, it is the perfect introduction to body positivity and the antidote to the toxic body-shaming society in which we live. So, what is body positivity? In a nut shell it is the belief that all people should have a positive relationship with their own body image, be accepting of their bodies and those of others. Claudine and Christine began the morning by introducing themselves and then invited the workshop participants to do the same, saying a little about ourselves and why we were there, coincidentally all the women attending on this occasion were mothers and there was a common theme of wanting our children to be happy in their bodies, or rather to not inherit our hang-ups. The first section of the workshop focused on finding out why body issues are so pervasive, and how we can educate ourselves. We explored the burden placed (predominantly) on women to fit into certain beauty standards, as dictated by magazines, advertising, films and the beauty industry. It is this narrow definition of beauty that has left us loathing ourselves. I stopped reading magazines many years ago, so I found it quite shocking to be reminded just how pervasive these messages have become. It is no wonder that, growing up with a bombardment of everything that is ‘wrong’ with our bodies we have internalised these negative ideas. To address this problem we were encouraged to block the negative media, to follow body positivity accounts on social media and to remember the beauty industry would collapse if we all suddenly loved ourselves. Armed with this knowledge we moved onto the middle section of the workshop, which focused on food. We explored the idea that we are surrounded by toxic messages around food and how many of us have a skewed view of eating. The diet industry has a vested interest in keeping us fat and hating ourselves. Claudine and Christine introduced to the idea of intuitive eating, which is about honouring your hunger and choosing foods without judging them, or yourself, coming from a place of respect for your body. There is no such thing as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food. To demonstrate these principles Claudine and Christine laid on a delicious spread, from fresh fruit to cake, cheese and crackers to green smoothies. We were invited to tune into our bodies and choose three things that our body was asking for. We did this in silence which was a really effective way of focussing on ourselves and letting go of the internal chatter. The final part of the workshop focussed on exercise, the emphasis being on moving your body because it feels good, not as a punishment for eating something you ‘shouldn’t’ have. The benefits of exercise on emotional wellbeing are well documented but again we are often fed extreme ideas about exercise by the media. By the end of the workshop it was clear to see how the three aspects really flow into each other and we finished by setting a goal to underpin what we had learnt. Body positivity is not a quick fix, it can take many years to find a place of peace with one’s body but by following the principles that Claudine and Christine articulated so well in the workshop you can give yourself the gift of starting the journey towards self love.

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