The word of the bird was the talk of the wood and the word was juicy and the word sounded good.
What was the word?
The word was Gorgeousness.
Whyyyyyyy? (If you have children under the age of six you’ll know that “whyyyyy?”)
Because yesterday I shouldn’t have been here.
Because yesterday I should have been on a train at the crack of dawn, heading up to London to the Southbank Centre to an event I have been itching to attend. This event was the Endangered Species International Summit. Established by world renowned psychotherapist, writer and activist, Susie Orbach, the summit kicked off a massive, global celebration of body diversity.
To challenge the cultural mindset around beauty that teaches young girls and women of all ages to hate their bodies.
Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, the Endangered Species event will take place throughout March, all over Planet Earth. Advertising and creative agencies from all around the UK submitted billboard campaigns to spread the message and in the weeks prior to the March 4th, these billboards have been erected at 11 sites around the capital. The winning entry came from Manchester’s RED C Agency. Here is is:
Susie Orbach, founder of the event, says:
‘Endangered Species summit is an urgent call to action: to save future generations from the body misery which can start as early as 6 and continue until women are in old age homes. The summit aims to show girls and women how they can do something about it, and to inspire them to embrace change.’
‘Over the past 30 years the workings of the diet, pharmaceutical, food, cosmetic surgery and style industries have made us view the body we live in as a body which must be perfect. The goal of perfectibility has turned generations of women against their own bodies. The young woman who can feel free to explore her interests without being preoccupied by how her body appears or focus on what procedure she should have in the future to change it is becoming an ‘endangered species’.
When I first created my book Grow Your Own Gorgeousness, I had not heard of Susie Orbach.
Back then my plan was simply to write and highlight something that I felt was really important. Since then over a hundred women have read the book and while the reactions to the message of Gorgeousness have been mixed, they have always been passionate and strong.
Many, many people were overwhelmingly relieved to find an alternative way to experience their bodies and selves, as being gorgeous “just as they are right now.” Countless people took the book, showed it to their colleagues and friends, bought it for sisters and mothers and daughters. Gorgeousness was like a fountain of water after a long, drought-ridden trek.
On the other hand, some readers have avoided ever speaking to me again!
Some read the book and were so deeply infuriated that they practically burnt itt the stake.
Others have seen it as a kind of confessional piece with me exposing all of my weird and wonderful insecurities.
People’s reactions have been interesting to watch. I’ve frequently felt like Granny, compelled to push back these boundaries yet acutely aware of the Doubters in my own (inner and outer) back yard.
What I found hard was this: some days I have really known in my heart that there is another way for women and that way (for me and a few others) is Gorgeousness. Other days the cultural conversation of body perfection is so powerful and my inner-doubt starts to grow. I wonder whether one voice in a thundering chorus of media and the beauty industry is ever going to get heard. How can a new way of seeing emerge on Planet Earth when the Global Voice is actively yelling an opposing message?
When I discovered Susie Orbach and her work, I had a little smile on the inside. Here was an ally; a woman and a sort of long-distance mentor who was delivering the same message as me. Then, when I discovered the Endangered Species International Summit, my internal smile broke into laughter.
Suddenly it isn’t just one little voice of Gorgeousness that is piping up here on the Isle Of Wight, but an amazing growing collective that is rumbling on horizons all over the globe.
Supported by Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone, fashion guru Caryn Franklin, actor and writer Emma Thompson and DIVA magazine, Endangered Species aims to engage people from the worlds of politics, corporate life, fashion and media and ask them how they can best contribute to changing those aspects of the commercialization of beauty which are causing such harm to girls and women around the world today. The Endangered Species Summit is also be kicking off in New York, Buenos Aires, Melbourne and Sao Paulo, with the Argentinian and Australian Priministers both fully supporting the movement.
This is so huge!
I am so happy!
And that’s whyyyyyyyyyy
If Gorgeousness strikes any chord in your head or even if it pisses you off, explore it more. Just have a lttle open minded play with what it is really trying to say. Ask yourself about how many women you know who aren’t preoccupied with trying to “fix” their body and for every one you think of, please go out today and tell just one person about the Endangered Species Summit. You could direct them to this blog for more information, or Susie Orbach’s website “Anybody’s Vent” where you can get to the Endangered Species webpage itself.
In the meantime, have yourself a rad little day.