10 minutes with Molly Forbes.
Molly Forbes, an activist and journalist who’s created some brilliant work on advocating body positivity. She’s produced and currently co-hosts the Body Cons podcast, kickstarted the #freefromdiets campaign and was a host on Channel 4’s naked beach. Today we get to know a bit more about her and what's inspired her work.
How was your experience presenting on Naked Beach? Was there anything about it you wish you knew in hindsight?
Naked Beach was a brilliant project to be involved in, although I don’t think I was prepared for just how emotional it would be! It was an honour to be trusted by the guests who came out to be helped by us, and to witness and share in some of their most vulnerable moments. It was intense and not always easy, but ultimately such an inspiring, uplifting and joyful show to work on.
When and why did you first decide to get into blogging and promoting a positive body image?
I’ve been blogging for ten years and a journalist and presenter for fifteen, so I’ve always been in the business of telling stories and talking to people. Before I started creating content around body image I mainly focused on parenting and writing about life as a mum. But I became really interested in the subject of body confidence and particularly how it affects mothers and children after realising how my own feelings about my body had held me back in the past and wanting to avoid my daughters ever feeling this way themselves. I decided this was an area I really wanted to focus on and dedicated all my time to researching the issue, creating content around it, developing a podcast (Body Cons) and helping others feel better about their body too. I don’t just want to raise body happy children, I want to be part of changing the negative body image culture they’re growing up in so it’s easier for them to be friends with their body in the first place.
Tell us a bit about the #freefromdiets campaign you founded, how was it like setting something like that up?
#FreeFromDiets is a campaign and social movement to cancel diet culture around kids. We’re campaigning for a change in the way diets and weight loss products are advertised around children, while working to help teachers and youth workers create positive body image environments around children too. Creating any type of social change is not easy - it’s one thing to get likes on an Instagram post or create a hashtag, but quite another to get real change on the ground. It’s a huge part of my work though and something I feel passionate about, which is what drives me. We don’t get change overnight - there’s so much misinformation around health, bodies and diets - but every time I get a message from a parent saying they’ve managed to get a diet ad removed from their child’s school or a teacher saying they’ve done a lesson on body image then it feels like a little win.
‘Body image is the way we think and feel about our body, and doesn’t actually have a huge amount to do with what our body looks like’.
Do you think current body image that’s being shown on social media will change in the future?
Body image is the way we think and feel about our body, and doesn’t actually have a huge amount to do with what our body looks like. Lots of people assume that having a positive body image means liking what they see in the mirror but, for me, it’s about knowing that you are so much more than the reflection looking back at you in the first place. I think it’s great how social media has created a platform for us to talk about this issue, but I think we need to be careful that when we do we don’t just swap one body ideal for another. When I was growing up the “on trend” body shape was the very thin, Kate Moss look, whereas now it’s all about the Kim Kardashian curves. But promoting any type of body over another is always damaging. I’m excited to see how the conversations on social media will continue to effect mainstream media and I hope they’ll bring about a cultural change where we naturally see a wider representation of bodies on TV and in magazines, a clearer understanding of what it means to “be healthy” and more comprehensive regulations around the way brands advertise weight loss products and cosmetic procedures.
Has being a mum changed your perception of body image?
My relationship with my body changed in many ways when I became a mum. On the one hand I was in awe of what it had done and discovered a new found respect for the fact my body had literally grown a human. But on the other I felt like my body wasn’t really my own any more. It looked different and it no longer existed just for me. This was both empowering and confusing, and is something I don’t think we talk about enough. We’re regularly sold this idea that we either need to “snap back” after becoming a mum or we should love and respect every stretch mark - but for many mothers it’s far more complicated than that. A lot of the time it’s about just not having enough time to connect with ourselves and our body in the first place, not prioritising our own needs enough and thinking that getting our post-baby body back will bring back our pre-baby life and confidence. I knew that being a mother, I was the number one source of inspiration for my girls around this subject and I was really aware that I couldn’t tell them the most important things about themselves were how kind / brave / compassionate they were, if I was showing them the most important thing about me was my body. It took me a while to really understand this, but once I realised I needed to work on my mindset instead of my body I think I became a better mother because of it.
Keep up to date with Molly on her site!
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