A few months ago, I came up with the idea of holding a body confidence seminar. A event where women would come to learn about body positivity and hopefully take that next step towards accepting themselves for who they are and their bodies for how they look. With my own past of low self esteem and eating disorders, I find it alarming just how many women, young and old, have real issues with their bodies. I wanted to create a nurturing environment to hopefully help at least one person find peace within themselves.
I talked to my friend Rachael who owns Rita Sue Clothing about how I could make this happen. I’d never organised a event before and wasn’t even sure if it would be something anyone would be interested in. Rach was so enthusiastic and supportive from the start and thus, Mirror, Mirror: A Body Confidence Gathering was created.
After a couple of months of organising and several coffee meet-ups in St Kevin’s Arcade, Mirror, Mirror was held on Sunday August 17th.
We wanted to keep the event small and intimate so only 20 tickets were sold and I think it was a really good number. Since Rachael is neighbours with the cafe owners in the arcade, we were able to use their space once they closed down for the day!
I was so excited to meet the attendee’s… I felt so warm and fuzzy that the event was actually happening!
I started everything off with introductions and I shared my story. I felt like this was a important part of the journey of how Mirror, Mirror came to be but I also know how when you are in the black hole of a eating disorder, it can be incredibly lonely and isolating. I wanted to break the ice and start with my story so that anyone there who was in their own black hole, would know they are not alone. I won’t go into details here, but you can read my story in this blog post. I was super nervous but I felt it went really well!
Next up, was women’s empowerment coach Janelle Fletcher. I first saw Janelle talk a few years ago at a gym I was attending at the time and thought she was really inspiring. She was the first person I thought of contacting when organising the event. Janelle was great at coming along to meetings and being a part of the development of the event and the core themes.
Because of the events name, Janelle focused on the different mirrors that women can look into, and see a distorted image of who they think they are, how their bodies are and what their life challenges look like.
The four mirrors that Janelle talked about us looking into are:
The magnified mirror– When you see life’s problems as insurmountable and you view your body in unreal proportions. You tell yourself you are ‘too fat, too ugly, too old…’ etc.
The minimised mirror– When you feel unnoticed, invisible and not enough. Words like “I am just…..” come out of your mouth with ease. eg. I am just a mother” Alongside of that comes the “not” word followed by “enough”. “I am not talented enough. My boobs are not big enough”, and on it goes. You give your power away to others because you don’t feel empowered or confident enough to take on the responsibility.
Then there is the comparison mirror – or what Janelle calls the somebody else’s mirror. This is where you compare yourself – your talents, skills, body, life….with others. It’s where you “maximise” others and “minimise” yourself. You compare yourself, your body and your life to what the media tells you is “ideal”.
And finally there is the broken mirror where your life reflects the distorted story or mirror that says you are “broken” from trauma, grief, loss, shame and other events such as abuse of any kind, molestation, down-putting… It is easy to stay victim whilst looking in this mirror. It is easy to feel unable to to change the situation, to feel depressed, paralysed and stuck in your situation. It is easy to fear what it would take to be a confident, passionate and beautiful women, because that would require different things of you.
So how do we stop seeing a distorted image in the mirror and start seeing what is truly in front of us? Here are Janelles tips for how to see a truer reflection of who we are
- Start approving of yourself, rather than trying to prove yourself constantly. Just be you, with who you are today.
- Have a point of difference (POD) by honouring your unique life lessons, inner gifts, values, skills, beauty…rather than trying to be a clone (pea in a POD) of someone else or someone’s version of who they think you should be.
- Use only self-honouring words.
- Get to the core of the “story” you have created about yourself. Unravel the “what happened” and “what did I make that mean about me, my body and my life?” Stick to the facts, and not necessarily the story you created. Rewrite that story if it is not self-loving.
- Practice body gratitude by finding things to be grateful to your body for, including the way it has healed, recuperated, detoxed, grown, recovered and re-energised…itself.
- Look at your internal treasures, not your external measures. eg. numbers on the scale, in your pay packet or numbers of “world experiences” you have had. Mirrors only see the outside. Focus on the treasures within and who you are as a “whole person”. Your friends and family will be talking about who you are at your funeral, not the size of your waistline, pay packet or numbers of whatever you think might make you more desirable, liked or successful.
- See a source perspective of how marvellous, beautiful and successful you really are. This is Spirit, God, the universe, your inner marvellousness or perhaps someone in soul / spirit (passed on) who thought you were the “bees knees” and who has faith that you can surmount any “obstacle” in life and have a richer, more fulfilling life than what you are presently experiencing
“Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of us all?”
We all are, but you will only get this by looking at the correct reflection of who you are. The unexpected joy of this is when your life starts reflecting that new image of you, more positive things begin to appear in your life.
At the end of Janelles talk, she played the Joe Cocker version of ‘You Are So Beautiful’ and asked us to reflect on someone special to us that is no-longer with us. It was unexpectedly emotional for quite a number of us and a really powerful reflection and end to Janelles inspiring session. Janelle also gave away a voucher to have a one-on-one coaching session!
After that, it was time for goody bags! These were chocka block full of awesome stuff from sponsors and were all things to make the receiver feel special, pampered and take some time out for themselves.
Each one had a 10% off card for Rita Sue Clothing, $20 off any service with me at Killer Hair, a mini hairstyling pack from Decadia Vintage, a sample of Davines Authentics Nourishing Oil from Boutique Brands, a homemade cookie from Miss Charlotte Cake, a complimentary photoshoot for 2 and $150 print credit from Studio81, a sample of the Grace Cleanser from Antipodes, a envelope necklace with individual messages inside from The Yellow Brick Road and a $10 off voucher for a makeover with Your Makeup Artist– WOW! Thank you so much to the sponsors, our attendees were so spoiled!
So instead of everyone getting their goody bags as they arrived, we had them up on a table up front and I asked everyone to come up two at a time and give each other a goody bag. It was about giving as well as receiving and the ceremonial feel meant it was another really special moment of the afternoon. It also related back to another topic that Janelle had talked about, that we as women need to be better at receiving and not just give, give, give all the time. Especially when it comes to receiving compliments- don’t just brush them off. Take them, absorb and say thank you!
We took a little break at this point for everyone to stretch and get a cake and drink top up!
Our final speaker was Jessica Sullivan. I know Jessica through the local vintage scene and originally met her at swing dancing lessons. She works at Rita Sue on the weekends but is at the very end of her training to be a Nutritionist. Jess is super passionate about holistic Nutrition and it was great to have her talking about that side of things
Jessica started out with a exercise where she gave each table a picture of a food – a orange, chocolate, cake, salad, hamburger etc and asked each table to come up with words to describe their food.
After going around and discussing what everyone came up with, she began to talk about how we never make a decision about food based on their scientific attributes, therefore every decision we make is a emotional one. All of our decisions factor in our emotional needs and there is no separation from the physical, mental and emotional needs.
The one big determining factor on how you make a decision about food is what MODE you are in. Jess then went on to describe the two modes most of us function on when it comes to food and that is…
The Parent vs The Child (or restricter vs indulger)
So the Parent will think in the long term, cut the calories, will be aiming to lose weight and be healthy, will have that harsh, parental voice in your head telling you to not eat that cake
The Child will say to live now, focus on short term pleasure and indulge in cake and sweets
The problem with these two MODES is that we find it so hard to find a balance in the middle. We are either the parent or the child. If we are in child mode and order a takeaway pizza for dinner, not many of us would add a side salad to the pizza because ‘what’s the point?’.
There IS a balance, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It is possible eat a pie and go for a walk in the same day without it being a punishment!
Jessica’s point to this was nourish your body. Don’t Diet. Don’t deprive it- give it everything in needs because you love and respect it. The reality is, that if you try to be the parent all the time, you’ll end up feel deprived and switch to child. I am a very ‘all or nothing’ person and this is what got me into trouble so I know now to not deprive myself but to try to eat consciously – something I am constantly working on!
Next Jess talked about why we don’t listen to our bodies any more and how stress, sugar and stimulants like coffee and energy drink can put our bodies in a constant state of fight or flight mode. Fight or Flight mode is referring to back when we were cave people and had to run away from a tiger suddenly!
When we are in this mode, our blood sugar levels rise and we produce the stress hormone cortisol which can slow your metabolism. Our bodies cannot tell the difference between physical stress and perceived stress so if you are worrying about catching up on your emails, your body will be in fight or flight mode. If you’d like to read more on Fight or Flight mode, this is a really in-depth article here.
Finally, Jessica talked about why not to step on the scales or even to measure yourself. All you are doing is weighing your self esteem but there are so many factors at play that can make those numbers go up or down. Did you know that just the bacteria in your gut weighs about 3 kgs and depending on the chemical breakdown of the food you’ve recently eaten, your weight could go up. Jessica encouraged us to just listen to how we are feeling- are you tired when you wake up? Do you sleep well? What are your energy levels like? Are your bowel movements is good working order?
Health is so much more than a number on a scale. Jessica advise to eat foods as close to nature as possible and with a variety of colours gives you the most delicious multivitamin you got ever take. No company can patent it and sell it to you- you have to decide on how you are going to nourish your body and you take it at least three times a day. It prevents illness, gives you energy to look after your kids or take you to work. There is no magic pill or product to make you feel good- you choose your pill everyday in what you eat. So sometimes, eat beautiful cupcakes, eat gorgeous green veggies, eat whatever makes you feel good both right now and will make you feel good in the future. Your incredible body is made up of what you eat.
Jessica’s talk was so informative and a light way to end a emotional event. Before wrapping up, I had to do one final task, and that was to draw a winner for the main prize, donated by sponsors once again! It consisted of a Antipodes gift pack, Davines Authentics Oil and Nourishing Butter from Boutique Brands, A treatment, cut and style with me at Killer Hair, a $50 voucher from V is for Vintage, a 2 hour makeup lesson for 2 with Your Makeup Artist, a complimentary photoshoot for 2 and $500 print credit at Studio81, and this amazing watercolour painting by my friend Sylvanna (Miss Scarlet In The Ballroom)
The winner was lovely Corinne, congratulations!
To finish, I just asked everyone to try to think of one part of them that they would like to love more and to then really think about what that part has done for them or will do for them. For me, my thighs are the part of me that I have to sometime make the decision to love but when I think about all they do for me past, present and future, I am grateful. A few years ago, I could run 20km on them. Currently, they allow me to stand on concrete all day at the salon and do what I love to do. Next year, they are going to take me walking around cities I have never been to before around the world. So I am grateful.
If you make the decision to love yourself and your body and even parts of you that you might hate, you’ll be amazed at the peace and confidence you can find and how if you make that decision everyday and not let those negative, hate filled words enter your mind, eventually it won’t be a decision anymore, it will just be how you think.
If you would like a one-on-one coaching session with Janelle or even sign up to her online 6 week retreat someBODY BEAUTFIUL starting on Sunday then please email [email protected]
I’d also highly recommend signing up to her mailing list and checking out her blog, she writes some really inspiring, though provoking material- www.janellefletcher.com
Mirror, Mirror was a real success and I hope to do more! Again, a big thank you to Rachael, Janelle, Jessica for their time and passion and to Charlotte and Sylvanna for their help with setting up and packing down on the day. A big thank you also to all of our sponsors for helping us put together such wonderful goody bags and prizes and thank you to everyones support, encouragement and for coming along! I was so happy and so excited with how well it went, I literally jumped with joy!
To end this, I’d like to quote one of Janelles mantras….