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Collective Conversations: with Emma Sanders

Updated: May 13, 2022

Recently we had the privilege of having a Bachelor of Science placement student from The University of Melbourne spend 8 weeks with Body Confident Collective. We sat down with Emma Sanders - an incredibly passionate and intelligent student who wants body image spaces to be inclusive and centre marginalised voices. - to see what body image means to her.

Georgie: We are so honoured to have you here with us at Body Confident Collective! First of all, what does body confidence mean to you?

Emma: To me, body confidence means accepting my body for what it is and moving through daily life without being worried about how my body looks.

Georgie: I think that is so interesting, given it almost feels like we have this pressure on us these days to be 'body positive' when really that element of body acceptance is just so important too. What drew you to working at Body Confident Collective?

Emma: I have been interested in body image and how I could help others (and myself) improve it for a couple years now (since I improved my own). The work that Body Confident Collective does to teach figures of authority (e.g. parents and sports professionals) to avoid negative weight and dieting discussions is really powerful, because I know the influence my parents’ views on weight and dieting had on my own body image.

Georgie: Yes! That is so powerful, and so much of what we strive to do is engaging with change with a top down approach where we influence and help those who then influence others relationship to their body. What’s something you’ve learnt about body image that you would love your younger self to know?

Emma: “Your body is an instrument, not an ornament” (Lexie & Lindsay Kite from ‘More Than A Body’).

Georgie: I love that - that's so powerful particularly for people who have been socialised as women and girls where self-worth is often placed so heavily on our physical appearance. Ok, now for a big question - because we like to think big here at BCC. How do you want to change the world?

Emma: This is a tough question. I would love to play a part in the dismantling of diet culture, fat-phobia and weight stigma, by bringing awareness to these issues. When I became aware of diet culture, I was able to step into my power by ignoring the constant societal messaging that you will feel your best at your thinnest. I realised it took up so much of my mental energy having negative thoughts about my body and diet, so now I can put that energy elsewhere, like learning new things and expanding my personal resources.

Georgie: Wow, so important and I have no doubt that the work that you do already and how you influence people around you is already playing such a huge impact in that! I definitely see how passionate you are in this space by having the privilege to work alongside you these past few weeks, and how you have challenged my own unconscious biases, showing that we always have so much more capacity for growth and learning. And with that, one last question, how do you connect with your own body and create your own sense of body confidence?

Emma: I connect with my body through yoga and breath-work. I also like to smile at myself when I’m looking in the mirror (and sometimes strike a fun pose) so that I associate confidence and other positive emotions with my body.

Georgie: Thank you so much Emma for being with us these past few months, and the work that you have done. For anyone interested about starting your own journey in unpacking diet culture, weight stigma and fat-phobia - head over to our Body Confident Professionals section on the website and check out the starter guide that Emma has developed for future aspiring health professionals.

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