The Belong Conversation, aka BelongCon, is run by Alice Reeves, Sophie Turton and Sophie Tanner. It’s a way of bringing people together to discuss and discover the power of finding belonging, acceptance, and community.
BelongCon events are a safe space for people to be vulnerable – so every single person leaves feeling inspired, uplifted and supported. The Self Love Sessions, run by BelongCon, explore a range of topics relating to our relationships with ourselves. I went along to the second Self Love Sessions – F Beauty Standards, Come As You Are. I already felt better about myself just reading the title of the event!
The main focus of the night was exploring our relationship with our bodies. The talks began around 7pm and finished at 9pm, with a break in the middle. There was also an opportunity to mingle before and after the talks. The night began with an intro from the wonderful Sophie Turton. She spoke about her experiences of self love and introduced each of the speakers.
First up Christine Chessman spoke about the fitness industry becoming more body positive. I really resonated with what she was saying about celebrating exercise and being proud of what your body can do, rather than just to burn off calories as part of a diet.
Then we heard from Bee Hammond, representing Free the Nipple in Brighton. She discussed what Free the Nipple does (Brighton is the biggest group in the UK!), why it’s so important and it made for really interesting conversation around gendered nipples, the sexualisation of breasts and getting your tits out. It was ace.
Matt Gifford‘s talk focused on giving yourself permission to be awesome. We’re always highlighting our negativities – why can’t we just focus that little bit more on what we’re good at instead?! This is one of my big weaknesses – constantly pointing out what I’m bad at. The discussion with Matt really made me see how negative I can be and that I should celebrate my strengths way more!
After a break, we heard from Effie Love about modern yoga. I found her SO engaging to listen to – she was funny, insightful and educational all in one. I’m a classic yoga avoider because I’m not skinny or flexible. Effie’s talk really showed me that it doesn’t matter what you look like – yoga is for everyone, no matter what.
I really, really resonated with Ben Hammond‘s talk. He discussed being the weird kid in school who dyed his hair and wore different clothes to everyone else. Then, when he went to uni and moved to Brighton – turns out he went to the same uni I did (big up Falmouth) and I felt EXACTLY the same. I was the girl with pink hair who wore my dad’s clothes in sixth form and I always felt a bit different for it. When I got to uni and now in Brighton, I love the fact everyone dresses the way they want and says a big FUCK YOU to societal pressures of fitting in.
Finally, we heard from Alice Reeves herself. Alice was super open and honest about her story and I found it quite emotional. She went deep into her past struggles, self-esteem issues and more – with a happy ending. She talked about how she has learned to be the person she wanted to be and learned to be happy! It was super inspiring to hear and I thought her talk was very brave and moving.
The talks finished with a Q&A with the speakers. Walking home from BelongCon, I felt genuinely charged with power and emotion. I felt inspired, excited; ready to look into joining Free the Nipple, be less scared of doing yoga, celebrate my achievements rather than my downfalls. Just a few hours with the people at this event and I felt like I had a different attitude to myself and my body.
I could not recommend The Self Love Sessions more. It’s a safe and inclusive event that feels like you are in a room of friends chatting – even if you go alone like I did. Everyone is so warm and open and the conversations flow easily. I really liked that during the breaks and the Q&A you could chat with the speakers and find out more about what they’re talking about. It’s a really valuable evening and I must insist you attend the next one. See you there!
I was kindly gifted my BelongCon ticket but all words and opinions are my own. Thanks so much to Sophie for inviting me.
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