Canal Street Online Manchester

National Student Pride 2022

National Student Pride 2022

NATIONAL STUDENT PRIDE HOSTS PANEL ON BODY IMAGE, SELF ESTEEM AND OVERCOMING STIGMA

The panel was chaired by Attitude editor Cliff Joannou and featured Strictly Come Dancing and Great British Bake Off’s John Whaite, comedien Sophie Duker, actor and activist Charlie Craggs, and social media figures Ben Wardle and Aliss Bonython.

The group explored the interplay between social media presentation and body dysmorphia, with John suggesting that the Instagram algorithm pushes perfection, later referring it to “shame by another name”, and Ben commenting on the 21st aesthetic of face tuning and photoshop, referencing the danger of Kris Jenner threatening to sue someone for posting an unfiltered photo of her daughter. On the other hand, Aliss raised how social media introduced her to the body positivity movement, inspiring her to create a platform where others would then find safety to be themselves.  

Ben shared his personal experiences with anorexia and denial, noting that he refused to accept it as an issue until he was hospitalised. Aliss also spoke of interventions by her friends and family about her eating habits, stating that her journey towards letting go and accepting herself took years and remains an ongoing process. She reiterated comments by other panellists about the dangers of diet culture, especially for children.

The specific body image issues surrounding trans people, especially trans women, were raised by Charlie, who explored how corrective surgery can be empowering but can reach an unhealthy extent due to the expectations under which trans people are put to present perfectly. She raised the importance of questioning for whom efforts of self-transformation are intended.

Sophie spoke on the importance and empowering nature of hair while noting how body hair is often framed as being “dirty or animalistic”, referencing Tyra Banks criticising a girl for having visible body hair on America’s Next Top Model. Sophie shared how she now feels empowered by the “chameleonic nature” of her hair, where previously it had been a source of shame. She spoke of finding body positivity in kink- and sex-positive spaces, which allow you to see body types and expression that are obscured by social media algorithms.

At the close of the panel, each panellist shared a piece of advice to help align mental and physical health. Panel chair Cliff pointed those in need of mental health support to the organisation Switchboard. 

Please find below images and video clips from the panel and additional information on National Student Pride.

Published: 14-Apr-2022

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