Black British, faith filled, curvy actress with a love for food, great music, good movies, life changing literature and awkward moments.
Black British, faith filled, curvy actress with a love for food, great music, good movies, life changing literature and awkward moments.
When we are very, very small and the world has not yet gotten to us, we believe, unless told otherwise, without a shadow of a doubt that we belong and that we can do anything.
The idea of taking up space used to be a concept I absolutely could not comprehend. I didn’t want to be seen and I certainly didn’t want to be heard. I did my best to squeeze myself into the smallest of places. I didn’t want to be anything but a gentle breeze because that’s how people wanted me to be right?
They needed me to be all soft features and voice and ideas and opinions, to match my equally soft body. You stay in this little corner and in this little box because you are this sex, this colour, this shape, this size and pretty soon you wind up feeling like there is no place you can go to exist.
I found I came into being whenever I listened to music or sang or read or watched movies or saw a piece of theatre. It was like a light would go on in me and suddenly the invisible girl was visible, even for the shortest of time, she was suddenly there again and I could live, but then it would end and the light would go out.
Darkness once more, but there was more light coming.
The body positive movement was that other light, and coupled with all the things that I love, it meant that finally, the light wasn’t going out so easily any more. It was starting to turn on and stay on.
A sense of belonging is important, taking up space is important and knowing we are enough is important. Along the way the things that support these truths are what help us grow into that next level of our lives. Here are some of those things:
1. Self Care – This the ultimate act of self acceptance and acknowledgement. When you take the time to get to know yourself and to care for yourself you are saying: you are enough, you are worth knowing, you are worth caring for and that is the gift of belonging to ourselves.
“Self care is never a selfish act – It is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on this earth to offer to others.” – Parker Palmer.
2. Purposeful Actions – Be deliberate when taking up space! Instead of choosing the easy option, the default option, make a bolder choice to step out and be brave. When you’re in that class, sit at the front instead of at the back. When you’re ordering that thing make a definite choice to speak up so that you can be heard. Whether its cleaning out your room or giving a talk in front of a whole bunch of people, be purposeful and unapologetic about being there and being present.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and they day you find out why.” – Mark Twain
3. Do Something That Scares You – There are a whole host of things that actually put the terror in me and I am conquering those things one at a time. Life is too short for us to stay in a little bubble that has been created for us or that we have created for ourselves out of fear. We learn our greatest lessons when we are out of our comfort zone and challenging ourselves. So pick something, big or small today that scares you but that’s going to push and challenge you to grow!
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Agatha Christie
4. Find Your Community – It matters who you surround yourself with. It is possible to have great relationships in some seasons in our lives, and for those same relationships to turn toxic when we enter into a different season. It’s so important you surround yourself with people who are excited to be part of your journey and who are there to encourage you and vice versa. We need to know that we can be building each other up and not tearing down. Not all the relationships we start off with our capable of handling that. Its always quality of quantity. So while you’re community might not end up looking like the first unattainable pilot episode of friends, you should be aiming to have people in your life championing healing in your life!
“The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.” – Robert Kiyosaki
5. Letting Go Of The Past – We could spend our whole lives living in the past and our past circumstances. We could spend the rest of our lives grieving what was lost, how we were treated, and the ways we’ve been hurt, but there comes a time when we must leave the past and move through the present and look to the future. Until we get our hands on a Tardis, we cannot rewrite the past, and even then, we shouldn’t want to because its informing us and growing us. Forge forwards and dare to let go of the issues you tying you down or hiding you away from the person you are allowed to be.
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” – M Kathleen Casey
Nobody puts baby in the corner comes to mind when I think of how we are all searching to belong. We are in the world but we are not strictly of this world. We are made of all of these complex, divine and beautiful things, and all of those things come together to create you, and so you are very much existing right here.
You are belonging right now.
You are alive and it is wonderful.
Now go take up some space. Go make some noise. Go spread some love.
There was definitely a point in my body confidence and acceptance journey that I assumed that once I loved myself all of my body confidence issues would miraculously melt away. I thought I would live the rest of my life out of the reach of the issues that had once pushed me so far into self loathing I could not see a world in which I didn’t view myself than less than.
I longed for the fairy tale ending of being the princess that not only chose the prince but gosh darn it, chose herself; and her perfect porcelain body with long flowing locks, sea foam eyes, socially acceptable ideals and opinions, brimming with confidence and with a glamorous bank account to match.
Only one problem: I wasn’t any of those things and nor would I ever be. The illusion was shattered and I was left looking at myself, which at the time was a busted Cinderella with braids, no confidence, an expensive degree and low key adoration for the arts that maybe didn’t adore me back.
I know what you’re thinking: how can you get to the place where you love yourself, but admit there were and sometimes are still times when you look to the girl to the left of you and don’t see a clown, but in fact a glory of womanhood you long to be? When exactly will what you are be enough for you to live a full life?
Honey, these are all excellent questions to be perfectly honest and the truth is the point of a body confidence journey is that it doesn’t always have an immediate end of destination. The travelling may take days or it might take weeks or months…or years and its difficult to think that along the road we might have moments where our resolutions slips but that is the truth of the human condition. Our perfect imperfections means that sometimes we have a bit of a struggle, but when we have hope and when we have faith – that’s when we can push on.
That being said.
Let’s admit a few things first.
Truthfully, body confidence is a process and it is individual. It will be joyous but it will also have moments of bitterness and exhaustion because those things come hand in hand with being a human being. You are not defined by the moments where you find it hard and you struggle, but you are going to be stronger for the moments you spend fighting despite the struggles.
No matter where you are on the journey, whether it’s full blown self love affair or honeymoon phase over, you are alive and enough and you deserve to keep exploring and growing to be the best you can be.
Regardless there is a whole a community of people who are rooting for you. They love you. We love you. I love you.
You’ve got this!
5 Black UK Bloggers
It’s very clear that across the world we are on the cusp of what I think will be another push forward in civil rights for people of colour. We are having to recognise that racism, prejudice, and equality are still very much present. Perhaps we are no longer in chains but we are bound in multiple other ways and these microaggressions committed daily are what stops minority groups from not only surviving but thriving.
Race. It’s not the most comfortable conversation to have but you would be surprised how much open dialogue will take away some of the stigma and fear.
Within the plus size community I think – no, I know – that there is more we can be doing to be part of the conversation and part of seeing some solutions. Change starts at home and the plus community is meant to be a home for all of us!
So what can we do at home to be more inclusive of plus women of colour? Well, we have to know who they are first, so I want to shout out some of my favourite plus size WOC bloggers changing the game.
Political, radical, fashion forward, and unapologetic. She is the definition of “get you a girl that can do both” or in this case, it all! Within the last few months alone Steph has not only been invited to speak at Parliament as part of the youth select committee to discuss body image, but has participated in multiple panels for Black British young people, and has recently written an incredible important piece, “Fat Black Women Matter Too“. Steph is that woman we all wished we had had as an example growing up. She isn’t afraid to speak up and fight for those of us who haven’t been fought for. She is an important voice not only for women of colour in the UK but for the plus size community as a whole, challenging us to reflect on how intersectional we truly are. Make sure you follow Steph closely.
There is nothing more satisfying for me as a woman of colour than seeing the other women of colour achieving their goals. Not only is Dennetta a fierce plus model, lifestyle, stylist, and beauty blogger but she is now also a qualified fashion buyer! This body positive goddess’ blog Livin Phat, Livin Large is relevant, current, vibrant, and bold. This woman sets goals and crushes them. She is fierce and you should have your eyes locked firmly on all the exciting things she’s destined to do for the plus fashion industry.
This plus model and blogger is on fire. Honest, current, and gorgeous. There’s no need to wonder why Lauren Nicole is signed to a top agency and regularly sporting some of the top plus brands. I for one am grateful for all the young black girls coming up who will get to see such a beautiful melanin queen as their example of body confidence.
Online content creator of beauty, fashion, and lifestyle, Chanel is a boss lady. This woman is taking business to a whole other level, working with UK based brands and internationally she is non-stop. Open, bubbly, and slaying, there is something so beautiful about a confident black woman and she’s on the up and up. Her aesthetic is clean, trendy, and bold and she’s the independent black woman we can be here for.
The brows are beat, the aesthetic is vibrant and the joy is real with Kayela. I can’t help but watch her vlogs with a big grin on my own face. Giving Nicki M a run for her pinkprint money, from fashion hauls to beauty reviews, hair tips and make up tutorials I know Kayela is about to blow up and lead us all to a bright and stylish future.
The biggest lesson these incredible women are reinforcing to me, is that there is no right way to be black. Our blackness is varying and beautiful and able to inspire.
When we get to know each other, when we stand as allies against ignorance and hate, when we listen, when we celebrate, when we love – that’s when we see real change.
It’s important that you know the these women will have come up against obstacle after obstacle, ignorance in all forms and stood regardless and fought regardless to be unapologetic in their blackness and I am proud to witness their journeys.
You should be too.
So if you’re on any of the popular social media platforms I’m sure you will have come across the phrase “The Glow Up” by now; and for those of who aren’t so familiar with the phrase, here is the definition according to urban dictionary.
An incredible transformation? Visuals matter to us as a society now and so we are talking about a change to our outer appearance. We’ve all seen the transformation Tuesdays on instagram, and I have posted a few of them myself, BUT and there is a big but here, figuratively and literally (jokes), I have to say I think there’s a flaw to how we approach the glow up.
You see to glow up, we have to assume that we were previously in a place of lower status. We’re saying that the person that we were before wasn’t nearly as great and aesthetically magnificent as we are right now. Now, even though everything around us is pointing to that being a fact, let’s play a little with the idea and see if we can’t be a bit better in how we look at things.
When I was younger, like so many of us I assumed that everything I was wasn’t good enough. The way I looked, the way I talked, the way I interacted with my peers. I felt supremely different to them in every way. I thought they were superior. They were slim, and beautiful and knew how to talk to guys, and knew all the latest fashion trends and went to all of the coolest places and just seemed to be excelling socially.
I on the other hand felt like I was just me, which meant I didn’t stand on the corner of my street and drink, I wanted to finish reading that chapter in Garth Nix’s Sabriel for the 100th time because escaping into a world full of fantasy and possibility was the perfect balm to help ease some of reality of life, and dealing with the difficulties of some of the things happening in my life at the time.
I wasn’t confident in my body, in fact there was times were, sadly, I absolutely detested it and so I didn’t want to dress myself up in the clothes my girlfriends were wearing because not only were they form fitting and bold, but a lot of the time even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t have been able to get them in my size. I mean, let’s hold a moment of silence for those of us who we wearing men’s white office shirts as our school white shirts.
Make sure you play something lit within that moment though, we’re not here to rub salt in wounds.
Right, so back to what I was saying.
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
― Maya Angelou
When you don’t relate to your peers or to your body as a young person, and you already dealing with a host of issues and hormones and mental health and family issues, you are just one ball of toe up.
You’re already telling yourself you’re not good enough, you’re ugly, there’s no hope and any other negative thing you can conjure and let me tell you from first hand experience it does not take much. We were and we are bombarded with images and articles that try help solidify those untruths as facts in our young minds. We are at war with ourselves and the weapons we are given are often in the form of our favourite tv show, whatever high street brand is popular, sometimes our friends and family, and sometimes ourselves.
I remember being consumed with the idea that maybe one day I’d get older, and I’d be enough to exist. I didn’t know that the girl who was wishing for those things was already enough. She was waiting on the glow up, when she should have been hungering for the grow up.
I had a host of positive influences in my life, including my mother and my sisters and my brother and my dad, but I couldn’t always hear them. They told me I was beautiful, but when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see my friends or the women on TV and so I told myself, “Michelle, you’re not what the world wants or needs” and that couldn’t be more untrue.
You see whatever stage of growth we are at, whatever age we make it to, the world needs us, even if we don’t recognise that. What I didn’t understand was that it didn’t matter if other people thought I was cool or “beautiful” – I was already all of those things because I wanted to be me, and my future was bright because I was loved and because I wanted to love and bring love into the world.
We think that if we achieve a goal weight or have a certain amount of money or followers or make up or clothes that we will be happy and we would have reached the ultimate glow up, but the glow up is eternal, the glow up is learning to love you, for you. It is being tolerant, it is striving to help each other, it letting yourself be open, it is about making steps to bring balance to your body, mind, soul and spirit.
I wish I could tell 16 year old Michelle that the most important glow up would be an internal one, where her foundations would be in faith, and hope and love and care. It wouldn’t matter if she walked around in a paper bag, she would still glow up to be beautiful.
Talking to a friend recently, I said I felt like I was having a second wind as a woman. Suddenly I was enjoying making my exterior look good, because it wasn’t about doing it for other people or reaching this ideal in my mind because of the things I see around me. I’m not doing my nails or my hair or my make up because I want to be the woman I imagined I should be, I do it because I am happy being me and sometimes that is just sitting in my underwear going over audition stuff but actually using that as a front to watch Netflix, and sometimes its putting my very best wig and my very best heels and going out with my friends. Not to mention everything and anything in between.
I am happy to just be me. That is the ultimate glow up. Who cares if the old you didn’t have great eyeliner skills or acne or was bigger or smaller? It is all a reminder of the war that has been won for your life, all those things make you, you and that is beautiful. They are triumphs and tales of a story that is not yet done. So that’s my definition of the glow up. I hope its yours too.
If there’s one thing that helps me on my journey as an actress its being able to hear about the testimonies and celebrate fellow actresses. Part of my journey to learning to love myself is to love others and seeing others succeed is a sure way to fill me with joy, plus who doesn’t want to hear about women in any industry slaying and conquering?
There was a time where certain things weren’t discussed and the lack of representation across industries was one of them. There was a norm and we stuck to that norm because the status quo was held with more regard than the ushering in of progress, which for most of us could not have been more detrimental to a lot of us as as we grew up, but things are changing.
Now we seem to be much more comfortable opening up and having honest dialogues about where we are at and who we are and trying to debunk and undo years of unhealthy brainwashing. I love that we are using the arts to help change and challenge perspectives so that the audiences being reached are as diverse as the people telling the stories.
Those changes are paving the way for novices like me who are still green and grafting. These women are challenging what it means to be woman in the industry. We are being seen and heard, we are no longer just poor stereotypes, but we are getting to represent three dimensional women that we know in our everyday. Beautiful, funny, talented, complicated, kind and generous women.
One of the things that I am grateful for is that not only are these women getting to share the narrative of being a plus body, but they are also making it so that soon it wont matter what is in front of you, it will be inclusive, it will be loved and lovable and it will be a true representation of the world we live in.
That makes for a pretty exciting future!
So in no particular order, because how on earth could I compare these incredibly unique, extremely talented and outstandingly gorgeous women to each other, here’s the list of my favourite seven plus size actresses.
Danielle Brooks – Well known for portraying the role of “Tastyee” on OITNB Danielle is not only an incredible young actress but she is now an important voice in the body positive movement and in the plus size community. It’s her journey to become more visible from the acclaimed Netflix show that pushed Danielle to start exploring her own body positive journey and speaking out about her struggles and her triumphs!
Image courtesy of Glamour
Jolene Purdy – Another OITNB cast member, (can you tell I’m a fan of the show), but Jolene has been around for a long time, and if you think back you will definitely remember her from some of your favourite tv shows and movies! For example Jolene breakthrough came in indie film Donnie Darko as character Cherita Chen. Yes that’s her! The beginning of her career Jolene has gone on to be in some other really fantastic shows. Unapologetic, hilarious and with a wicked sense of style, she is also representing the under-represented Asian community. I can’t wait to see what Jolene moves onto next.
Adrienne C. Moore – Okay so you can tell I’m mildly obsessed with the cast from OITNB, but to be fair can you blame me? I’m in a candy store with the amount of fierce, plus sized, racially diverse incredible actresses. How could I not put them on the list, considering the release of the new series! Adrienne makes the list because she is perfection; known for her part of “Black Cindy” in the show, Adrienne is a force to be reckoned with. Her ability to guide us through such a colourful emotional journey at any given time shows that her ability to be versatile is not only incredible, but still untapped. She is another actress and body positive activist that will remain on my radar and continue to inspire me!
Octavia Spencer – Now Ms Spencer has been working for years, and as a kid I grow up knowing her as one of the few black and plus sized women that would appear in tv shows and films as a secondary character, but regardless she had been doing something that is tough for any act and that’s working consistently. It wasn’t until the 2011 film adaption of the book “The Help” that Ms Spencer became a household name and Oscar winner for her performance as a 1960s African American maid during the civil rights movement. We all know that now iconic line “Eat my s***” which catapulted Ms Spencer, now in her 40s, into a completely other place in her career. She is a living example of being incredible and consistent and being rewarded for that. She is an inspiration to us all, never changing or molding herself to fit into the hollywood “standards” of what is beautiful in order to get the acclaim she deserves.
Sharon D Clarke – I’d argue that Ms Clarke is most definitely a black british counterpart to Ms Spencer. Ms Clarke has been a role model of mine since I was a child. Now if it was hard to see a plus size African American body on the screen, it was even harder to see a black British one, and Ms Clarke became just that for me. Her career spans TV, film and theatre and she is undoubtedly someone that I look up to and admire. I recently had the privilege of seeing her at the Southwark playhouse in a musical called “The Life” and if it wasn’t a matinee and I wasn’t too scared of embarrassing myself, I would have yelled even louder than my inappropriate but formal yelling would allow. She has and will always be a force to be reckoned with. She has a presence that is unmistakable and more importantly she is representing the hundreds of young black British and plus sized actresses like myself. She paved the way for us and for that I could not be more grateful. Thank you Queen D.
Dascha Polanco – Guys, don’t berate me this way, this is the last OITNB actress I’ll talk about I SWEAR, but believe me Dascha deserves a mention. Nurse turned actress and now body positive and Latina activist, she is not only an inspiration, but an example of how its never too late to achieve your dream. I’m sure if you told her ten – no, five – years ago that she would be where she is now, she wouldn’t have believed you, but her she is being a voice for those who don’t have one. She represents the plus size and Latina communities beautifully and I can’t think of a better and more talented ambassador. OITNB is just the beginning of this gorgeous women’s career and I’m excited to see what the future holds for her!
Image courtesy of ET Online
Sharon Rooney – Glaswegian Goddess, Rooney is well known for her phenomenal portrayal of Rae in E4’s My Mad Fat Diary. A look into the world of a fat teen with mental health issues, and a troubled home life. For the first time it was like a light was being shone on the issues that most of us have faced or are facing as young people in Britain. How many of us watched the often heartbreaking but also inspiring journey of Rae as she navigated loving herself, her family and friends while battling with anxiety, eating disorders and body image? Seeing some of her own stories played out in front of us was a gift that kept on giving, but also a responsibility that Rooney herself did not take for granted. A body positive babe herself, as an actor what greater gift can you be given than to tell an important story, a unique story, and a story that could change and sometimes save someones life? And that’s why we do what we do.
So there’s my list, I hope you hung in there with me, I hope you will go and look up these ladies yourself, and watch some of their work, but more importantly I hope knowing that they are out there encourages you! I hope knowing that we have champions in our community fighting to tell our stories gives you hope, and reassures you that your story is just as worthy as anyone else.
There’s something I’ve been thinking in the last week or so… What is confidence? How do we get it and how do we keep it?
How can we be confident in ourselves, but also in our bodies?
Body confidence as a movement is sweeping the world; reaching across genders, races, cultures, and backgrounds. We are reaching a point in a society that not only are we rebelliously trying to love all that we are, but we are fighting against the oppressive standards that have been holding us back for hundreds of years.
Every day we are dismantling stereotypes about body image and mental health. We are making moves in exploring intersectionality and breaking down the barriers that have kept us from being unified.
The actual definition of confidence is this:
“the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something.”
I have been raised to know that faith is the substance of things hoped for with the evidence of things not seen. Therefore, there’s no right way to be confident and the manifestation of it in everyone will be different. But it’s important to know that you are worthy of living your best life, and living it in the fullest way.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there will be days where you won’t feel so confident. It can take years to find personal and practical ways to build up a strong foundation of confidence, and even when you have the strongest of roots, because we are all human, you will of course have times when it feels like your confidence is not at its strongest.
I know I can be real with you guys and admit that I have been feeling similarly myself. I have my moments where I second guess myself, over analyse, question every single decision I’ve made, feel terrified at the unknown nature of my future, and feel this weird little gremlin running around.
The thing is – gremlin or not – I need, and we all need, to be able to keep learning and growing.
So what are some ways to do this? Here are some of the things I like to do!
There is no wrong way to help build confidence in yourself, unless it involves tearing other people down, in which case you’re not building any real or lasting confidence. So build up yourself, build up others and have faith in yourself.
You are so worth believing in.
Summer is about to be all the way here and, quite frankly, I don’t think any of us could be more excited! Enter vitamin D and twerking in the park to bad girl RiRi tracks stage right. Some of us are at a place where we cannot wait to slip on that sexy two piece or smoulder in an elaborately designed one piece; big arms, big tummy, thick thighs out for the whole world to see. Some of us are still inching towards the finish line, and want to feel cute, but are still a little afraid to reveal all this greatness to the world.
That is totally fine, regardless of where you’re at on your body journey there is something for you and that’s what counts because we couldn’t have said that 10 years ago. When a lot of us were growing up there weren’t options to feel sexy or cute or practical and our age. Every body, female or male, has felt the dread of summer and beach holidays or swimming pools. We would sit in class and try to figure out which drawer we’d buried that oversized t-shirt in, which would inevitably become our summer armour. As much as it pains me to think of that little kid who was too afraid to let their skin breathe and their body exist in whichever form it wanted, we can end that cycle. We can be the ones that pull on the thread of that t-shirt until it unravels, reveals our most public and private glories and proudly stand up as examples to those looking up to us.
At the end of the day it’s true what they say: being beach body ready is simple if you let your body go to the beach, but we know that the journey to get there is probably not as cut and dry as that.
So what are some tips for getting beach body ready?
If you’re not ready to make your glittery entrance on a beach that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you can’t still have an experience, even if it’s slightly more private. Get your swimsuit, get your beach towel and pick a closer location. Whether that’s your bedroom, back garden, your car or the park, find a space that’s safe and build up your strength from there.
Make a list
Lists are an essential part of life, but also a low key indulgence of mine. They have a way of bringing me peace by exposing and pinpointing my fears, I think when getting beach body ready that’s something that has to be done. Lists are a great way to exercise some of your fears. Confessing and acknowledging fears can often take a lot of the mystique away. Debunk some of these myths so you can be on your way!
Find the one
Finding the right swimsuit for you will be imperative. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sexy two piece or a cute all in one. What matters is that you feel confident and comfortable. It is super important to make sure you can feel like your inner light is reflecting!
Ditch the ideal
Our bodies are perfectly imperfect and that’s what makes us so darn beautiful. There may always be a part of our bodies that we aren’t completely in love with, and there might always be someone that we can compare ourselves to and feel lesser than. Instead, see yourself as the ideal. Just by being you the world’s already winning.
Hair today, gone tomorrow
Hair is a part of the human body. We all have it regardless. When getting ready for the beach or the pool we usually hit up the beauty salon, or grapple with uncomfortable positions in the shower, to make sure we’re all squared away in the hair department. But in reality: it doesn’t matter. If you’re cool with having hair, or you’re determined to be sleek as a seal, all of it works.
You know how we were talking about the years of covering up with t-shirts? Those were probably also the years of dodging group photos and refusing to have self portraits. We didn’t want any evidence of the traumatic experience of existing. That’s got to change. So document the life out of your beach body slay. Keep every shot. Flattering or not. As a reminder that you are alive and you are taking up space that you deserve to have.
This post mentions a wide array of mental health issues and has the potential to be triggering to some readers.
The words you can see above are just some of the phrases we’ve all let fall from our lips and that we have had spoken to us and inevitably digested to help fuel the unhealthy idea that there is a problem with mental health.
Mental health issues affect us all in varying degrees. Perhaps you don’t have a name for it, maybe it manifests differently than some of the stories you’ve heard or read about, but be it stress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, anger management, panic attacks, disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, obsessive compulsive, phobias, hyper manias, post traumatic stress, psychosis, sleeping problems … every person you know will have suffered with their mental health at some stage of their lives.
It can be a little intimidating to realise that, statistically, you are likely to suffer a blip in your mental health, but the stigma surrounding mental health issues needs to be eliminated for that intimidation not to become fear and exacerbate any potential issues you may have.
Working in the arts mental health is something affects me daily. In a report done by the Victoria University in Australia it was found that people in the performing arts are ten times more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety than the average population. Ten times. The report goes on to say that symptoms of depression are five times higher and statistics suggests they can be linked to issues such as financial instability and poor working conditions – which, of course, are proven catalysts for ill mental health in themselves.
I can put my hands up and say I’ve experienced that anxiety. Sure, I get to do what I love, and its a given that your life will be in flux. But the strain of living your day to day with no idea where you’ll be in a couple of months with little financial support, and sometimes poor living, working and travelling conditions, whilst having your very best demanded from you daily is exhausting.
The same goes for all of us, really. Every single day our responsibilities, our relationships, our jobs, and everything in between demands everything from us, and we often do our best to give everything that we have. But sometimes that drive to perfection or that desire to do our best leads us to the ends of our tethers – which can often be our weakest point.
The only way to really tackle these issues head on is to be completely open and honest about them, in order to remove the stigma and get us all talking. Mental health problems are always going to be there, so the priority needs to be making them easier to cope with. So here are some of my top tips for helping yourself, and your friends and family, deal with mental health awareness.
Everyone’s self care when it comes to mental health will differ, but we are all united in the fact that we must look after ourselves, our mental health and each other. None of us our perfect, we all have the things that we’re battling, but what’s important is that we fight together!
You’re not alone. You are enough. We will do this.
National Suicide Prevention
0800 273 8255