Appearance Matters 5 Conference: Unique Voice and Body Gossip Collaborate
Last week I was living in fear that the world might implode. No, I wasn’t given top secret information regarding an apocalypse- instead two parts of my life, both incredibly important but until now, entirely separate were to combine in what turned out to be a pretty amazing evening.
As well as working for Unique Voice, I also work for a body image campaign called Body Gossip. We invite people up and down the country to share their body stories, these are then performed in live stage shows, made into films or put in the Body Gossip book (the first of which is out on the 6th September!).
Body Gossip had been invited to Appearance Matters, a conference hosted by the wonderful people from the Centre for Appearance Research. They’d asked Body Gossip to provide a performance for a drinks reception to end the first day of the event, which is when Natasha Devon (or BodyGossipTash) had the idea that Unique Voice should provide said performance. And thus this very strange yet totally wonderful collaboration was born!
In order to get the inspiration for this performance, Unique Voice then sent out a set of questions to the delegates who would be attending the conference. They included questions about where people felt most and least comfortable with their bodies and why, which parts of their appearance they were most and least comfortable with, and asked them to describe how they felt about these aspects of their physicality.
The generous responses we received were used as the basis for our performance. The work we created was rather different than previous Body Gossip performances. Usually these consist of stories people have sent into us, which are read out by one or more people. This piece however, contained barely any words. Instead we chose a physical exploration of the stimulus we had, and focused in particular on the differences people seem to experience regarding body image when in private and public situations.
We explored situations such as changing rooms, social events and relaxing at home with a loved one. The piece was framed by an exploration into people’s responses to photographs of themselves. I’m sure we can all recall a time we demanded an image be deleted or de-tagged on Facebook because we were not happy with the way we looked in it.
I’m pleased to say the performance went down incredibly well, despite being in a very different setting to Unique Voice’s usual work. That evening there were no eager year 6’s, but instead a room full of academics, all experts in their field. But ultimately, the company’s ethos still prevailed. Vocalising current issues includes those relevant to people of all ages, and I was absolutely thrilled that my two passions could be combined for this event.
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