Sometimes, being here in the UK, we can get a little bit of green eye when it comes to all of the amazing body positive events that are going on in over the pond in the States. So when we caught wind of a new event series, Anti Diet Riot Club, starting in London, we had to meet with the woman behind it.
Becky Young isn't new to events. In fact, that’s her work background, but body positive events, on the other hand? That’s a whole new territory for her. I got to sit down with her a while back and talk about Anti Diet Riot Club, and its first event, Being Body Powerful, which she’ll be hosting tonight at The Book Club in Shoreditch.
Anti Diet Riot Club’s sold-out debut is the first of many events that Becky aims to bring to London, inspired by her friends and their lack of engagement around topics such as body positivity and fat activism. During her own year of research about the movement, she noticed that whilst most of her friends, although “very feminist and very intelligent”, didn’t ever open up any kind of dialogue around body positivity. “Lots of my friends are very clever,” Becky said. “But they’re still slaves to body ideals and diet culture, so I wanted to open up that conversation here [in London]. And it just so happens that my natural way to do that was through setting up events.”
Becky’s own Eureka moment occurred on a holiday in Mexico, where she found herself so upset about her body, that, at the start of the trip, she condemned all Mexican food and insisted that her trip was going to be punctuated with workouts and clean eating. Luckily, her outlook changed whilst in Mexico, and she refused to keep up with the restrictive plan that she’d set herself. “Had I kept that up, I would’ve just ruined my trip, and continued to stay in that cycle of bingeing, purging and dieting. But now I feel so much freer.”
Anti Diet Riot Club is about solidifying a community outside of social media, focusing on the physical connections that people make in real life. And the events aren’t just for those who know the ins and outs of the body positivity movement: “[Anti Diet Riot Club] is a good chance for me to learn, and to help teach other people, including my close friends. I want people to engage with these topics. If I can change someone’s mind, and stop them from going on their umpteenth diet, then that’s good for me.”
Becky’s own journey to body acceptance is an interesting one; living with a bone condition has seen her undergo major surgeries in her early years and continue to experience chronic pain as an adult. Under the influence of rigorous ‘beach body’ exercise routines, Becky managed to do more harm than she did good, by fracturing her hip in several places — all in the name of thinness. On the surface, Becky felt ‘extremely conscious’ of her scar growing up, and after years of trying to hide it, she found a great group of friends as a teen and she began to embrace it — an act she considers her first transformation with regards to how she viewed her body. ‘It became a part of me,’ she said. ‘I still had the pain and the anxieties, but physically, I like the scar. I think it’s cool. It’s made me who I am; it’s given me strength and all kinds of abilities. I’ve always kept my head up and I’m really proud of that. My scar was my first body journey, now my second is for the rest of my body.’
So what can we expect from ADRC in future? Becky’s long-term aim is to evolve into regular meet-ups for the community that she wants to build, with the events serving as an opportunity to attract likeminded people. Events will go beyond talks — although Becky plans to have many more in future — and upcoming plans include body positive life drawing sessions, intuitive eating workshops, and fatshion markets for plus size women who are often excluded from fashion events.
“The goal isn’t just for inspiring talks, or cheesy Instagram captions - I want it to be practical so people can take things away from each event […] And I don’t want it to be super metropolitan, with events just for middle class white women. I want to explore all the different themes and concepts of body positivity and fat activism, interrelating cultures and reaching out to as many different backgrounds as possible.”
Although tonight’s event is completely sold out, London folk can catch future Anti Diet Riot Club events — and you won’t be left out of pocket. “My hope is that [the events] can remain really cheap, and I can offer subsidised rates, so that it’s really accessible. Nothing can truly be radical if it’s not accessible.”