The Anti Diet Riot Fest: Why We Need More Safe Spaces

Last Sunday me and Husbandface went to the ADRC Anti Diet Riot Fest in Colours, Hoxton. I had been to their first event like this last year, and I loved it. I was so excited to see it had come round again, this time bigger, bolder and jam packed with talks, forums and workshops.

I have been pretty unwell for the last few weeks so this was my opportunity… My opportunity to put my big girl pants on, dust myself off and throw on some make up. I put on the skirt that Husbandface bought me for Christmas and pinned my hair into my signature rolls. I felt almost me again. But I couldn’t account for the anxiety that would set in. We got on the train and headed into town, Husbandface checking in with me every time I made a loud exhalation. I nearly needed peeling off the ceiling of the train. What on earth was I scared of? I was headed to the safest place imaginable, a place where Body Positivity and Body Acceptance was the main order of the day. Yet I still couldn’t shake this, almost unbearable, feeling of anxiety. What if I turn up and people think I don’t belong? What if I walk in and I’m not cool enough? What if? What if? What if?

My brain is a bizarre creature… So marvelous, so clever and creative, yet so misinformed and actually a bit dumb! I walked into the venue and was greeted with huge smiles from beautiful people and the atmosphere was happy, buzzing and so positive. Husbandface furnished me with the flute of prosecco that would be my prop to mask my anxiety. Swanning around in my leopard print with my bubbles helped me feel fabulous. Then… Then I looked more closely at the crowd and spotted some of the heavy hitters of the BoPo world. Becky, the Anti Diet Riot Club’s founder. Georgina Horne, the sexiest plus size model. Harri Rose, author of ‘You Are Enough’ greeted me with a smile and a hug. I’m not going to lie, I was fan-girling pretty hard. I was in BoPo heaven!

I chatted with random people at the bar, smiled at strangers, perused books…by “perused” I mean bought books…I couldn’t help it, it’s like an addiction. How could one resist when the Primrose hill book store had brought along the best selection of books about body acceptance.

Once my daft anxieties had settled, I was in my element. It’s rare to be among such a gorgeous array of different bodies, and the most lovely thing was to see them draped in glorious clothes. There were a lot of sparkles.

The fact that everyone was there with a shared purpose and most likely a shared history, made this so much more glorious. We’d all been victims of diet culture, body shaming or societal marginalisation. Husbandface and I were interviewed by Marie Claire, the journo asking Phil if he had come just because of me. We laughed, I pointed out, as Editor in Chief of my blog, he was just as immersed in the culture as I was. He was lovely and we chatted for a bit before all heading to the forum on Masculinity.

The panel for the forum on Masculinity was the artist Graeme McGregor (@graemedraws), who has created a series on men’s bodies, Rupert (@chubrrrub) a trans male/ drag queen and Stevie Blaine (@bopoboy). It was really interesting for me to see the discussion on men’s take on their bodies and how little a healthy view on men’s body image is promoted, as well as hiw men internalise their feelings about their bodies and toxic masculinity. Husbandface, I think, would have loved to have been a part of it to represent the smaller stature nice guy! I failed miserably at getting to any of the other talks, but if they were half as informative, honest and funny as this one then I certainly missed out. For next time, l hope they repeat some of the talks at various times in the day.

Next time I’m going to be more proactive and get involved in the art making workshops and stop being such a wuss.

Next time I’m going to get there early and cram as much as I can in.

Next time I will get more involved and not be such a chicken (missed my opportunity for a fan girl selfie with Georgina Horne, but I did get one with Harri and one with Stevie, and loved that we got photobombed by the dashing Kenny Ethan Jones.

I came home last Sunday absolutely on top of the world. It was safe. It was fun. It was wonderful. Please let there be more!

 

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